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This volume is translated from the " Etudes sur Vlr- 
lande Contemporaine," published in 2 vols, 8vo, (Paris; 
C. Douniol, rue de Tournon ; 1862.) The entire of the 
work is translated here, with the exception of those arti- 
cles in the Appendix which could only have an interest 
for French readers; that is to say, the following : — 1°. 
Article from the Times, on the Papal Legion of St. 
Patrick, after the capitulation of Spoleto, Sept. 1860. — 
2°. Article from the Irish Times, 13th Oct. 1860.-3°. 
Articles from the Morning Star, the North British Daily 
Mail, and the Times, on the evictions by Lord Plunket 
in Nov. 1860. — 4°. The General Rules and Orders of the 
Landed Estates Court. — 5°. The more important Sections 
the "Passengers Act Amendment Bill." (18 and 19 

Tic, cap. 119 ;— 1855.) 


The work of the Rev. Father Perraud is in the original 
preceded by a Letter to the author from the celebrated 
Bishop of Orleans, Mgr. Dupanloup; — intended not merely 
to convey the personal opinion of the illustrious writer 
upon the author's labours, but also to serve as an intro- 
duction for the book itself to the reading public of France 


and the continent. This Letter, — written with all the 
eloquence, and all the elegance of language, for which 
the illustrious Prelate is so celebrated in the modern 
literature of France, — is given in the Appendix, (p. 516), 
at full length, and in the original. 

Since the publication of this book it has earned also 
an expression of approval from one of the most distin- 
guished publicists of France, — no less an authority than 
M. Gustave De Beaumont, — the writer of the singularly 
able work on Ireland, twenty-five years ago, which has 
served as the starting point for all subsequent enquiries into 
the condition of that country. In a Letter addressed to 
the author, M. De Beaumont warmly assures him that : 
" he did not believe he had ever read any work in which 
the sources of information are more abundant, and in 
which the facts, compiled with the greatest precision, are 
presented to the public with more ability and sincerity." 
And in a second Letter, a few days afterwards, he adds : 
"My only regret is, to have expressed my opinion in 
words which but feebly show the lively interest and pro- 
found sympathy I felt in the perusal of your admirable 
book. I most ardently hope that the excellent ideas 
contained in it, and the spirit that breathes through it, 
may soon make their way in both the Old and New 
World. The talent of the writer, and the intrinsic 
merit of his work, are the real guarantees of its success. 
But, if patronage were needed, you could have none 
better or more powerful than that of Mgr. the Bishop 
of Orleans ; — that great prelate, who throws light on 
everything he examines, and supports indeed whatever he 
defends ; and who, unceasingly aiming at that union of 


faith and liberty which we all desire so much, naturally 
directs his attention to an unfortunate people whose his- 
tory may be said to be the very history of that cause. The 
sanction which he has given your work will undoubtedly 
have great weight with your readers. For my part, I 
shall esteem myself happy if even in the most feeble 
measure I can contribute to the circulation of a work 
which contains nothing but good ideas, good principles, 
and good sentiments." 


At p. 475, (in the 'Note on the Constitution of the Dissenting Churches,') 
for " II. The Anabaptist Church, (The Quakers), "—read 
"III. The Baptists." 

and in that note, for "Anabaptists,"— read " Baptists." 



Historical Introduction, i. 

Book I. — Political Equality. 

Chapter First. True Spirit of the Emancipation Bill, .... 1 
Ch. II. Unequal Divison of Public Offices between Protestants and 

Catholics, 4 

Ch. III. Unequal Distribution of Parliamentary power and Electoral 

rights between England and Ireland, 15 

Ch. IV. "Want of Impartiality in the Administration of Justice, . . 21 

Ch. V. The Jury- Packing System, 30 

Ch. VI. Exorbitant Powers of Grand Juries in matters of local adminis- 
tration, 44 

Ch. VII. Municipal and Parochial Institutions, ..... 52 

Ch. VIII. Financial Relations between England and Ireland, . . 56 

Ch. IX. Exceptional Laws and Measures to which Ireland is subjected, 61 

Book II. — Landed Property, 

Chapter First. Its origin and historical antecedents, .... 74 

Ch. II. Different kinds of Tenure, 76 

Ch. III. Tenancy-at-Will ; — its conditions, .:.... 79 

Ch. IV. Powers and Rights of the Landlord, ... 85 

Ch. V. Absenteeism, 91 

Ch. VI. Agents. — The Crow- Bar Brigade, . . . .* .95 

Ch. VII. Confiscation by Law, 101 

Ch. VIII. Consolidation of Farms, 104 

§ 1. Substitution of Pasture Lands for Corn Fields, . ib. 
§ 2. Fertility and Productive Capacity of Ireland, . . 107 
§ 3. What number of Inhabitants is Ireland capable of sup- 
porting? Ill 


[ 10] 


[Ch. VIII. Consolidation of Farms,] 

§ 4. Statistics of Produce during the Famine Years, . . 113 
§ 5. In what consists the Improvement effected by the Con- 
solidation of Farms, 117 

Ch. IX. Evictions, 124 

Ch. X. Deplorable consequences of the system, 138 

Ch. XI. Tenant- Right of Ulster, 143 

Ch. XII. Condition of the Agricultural Classes in the other countries of 

Europe, 148 

Ch. XIII. The Incumbered Estates' Court, . . . , . .160 
Ch. XIV. Attempts at Legislation previous to the Bill of 1860, . . 168 

Ch. XV. The BiU of 1860, 178 

Ch. XVI. Condition of the Tenant since the Bill of 1860, . . .193 

Book III. — Industry and Commerce. 

Chapter First. Industrial Resources of Ireland, 206 

Ch. II. English Monopoly in the Seventeenth Century, . . . .211 
Cn. III. Present Condition, 214 

Book IV. — Emigration. 

Chapter First. Plans of Emigration, 221 

Ch. II. Statistics of the Exodus, 226 

Ch. III. Pecuniary resources of the Emigration, ..... 228 

Ch. IV- Countries emigrated to, 229 

Ch. V- Government control over Transport of Emigrants, . . . 231 

Ch. VI. The Departure of the Emigrants, 236 

Ch. VII. Dangers to the Faith of the Emigrant, 242 

Ch. VIII. Progress of the Church in America, through Emigration, . 247 

Ch. IX. Results of Emigration to Canada and Australia, . . • 254 

Ch. X. Irish Emigrants in England, 257 

Ch. XI. Economical and Political consequences of Emigration, . . 267 

Book V. — Destitution. 

Chapter First. The Poor of the Towns, 272 

Ch. II. The Food of the Peasant, 278 

Ch. III. Rural Dwellings, 280 




Ch. IV. The district of Gr weed ore, 283 

Ch. V. Partial Famines of 1860, 1861, 1862, 287 

Book VI.— The Poor Law. 

Chapter First. History of its establishment in England and Ireland, . 305 

Ch. II. The Central Board ; (Poor Law Commission), .... 309 

Ch. III. Boards of Guardians, 312 

Ch. IV. Workhouse Officials, 316 

Ch. V. Poor-Rates, 319 

Ch. VI. Mode of dispensing Belief, 324 

Ch. VII. Workhouse Diet, 328 

Ch. VIII. Condition of Children in the Workhouses, .... 332 

Ch. IX. Dangers to Morality, 336 

Ch. X. Intolerant spirit of the Poor Law administration with regard to 

Catholics, 338 

Ch. XI. Official contempt for the Catholic Beligion, .... 344 

Ch. XII. Removal of Irish Poor from England, 351 

Ch. XIII. Parliamentary Committee of 1861, on Reform of the Poor Law, 356 

Appendix to Book VI ; (P. 339). — On the condition of Catholics in 

the English Workhouses, 363 

Book VII. — Public Education. 

Chapter First. History up to 1831, 368 

Ch. II, Lord Stanley's system of " National Education" (1831), . . 375 
Ch. III. Unequal composition of the ' ' National Board, " as to Protestants 

and Catholics, 377 

Ch. IV. Preponderance of the Protestant element in the editing of the 

Class Books, 381 

Ch. V. Successive alterations in the original system, .... 387 
Ch. VI. Proselytism in the " National" Schools of Ulster, . . .392 

Ch. VII. Precautions taken against Catholic proselytism, . . . 399 

Ch. VIII. Normal and Model Schools, 402 

Ch. IX. Free Religious Schools, 406 

Ch. X. Complaints of the Episcopacy against the "National " system, . 409 
Ch. XL Parliamentary discussion of 1860. — Concessions made to the 

Catholics, 412 

Ch. XII. Colleges and Universities, 417 

§ 1, Intermediate Education, ib, 



[Ch. XII. Colleges and Universities,] 

§ 2. Superior Education, 419 

The Protestant University of Dublin, ( Trinity College) . ib. 
The Queen's University, (Queen's Colleges) . . . 420 
The Catholic University, 425 

Book VIII. — The Religious Question. 

Chapter First. The Catholic Church of Ireland before the "Refor- 
mation," 429 

Ch. II. Establishment of the "Reformation," 431 

Ch. III. Religious Statistics of Ireland, 443 

Ch. IV. Actual situation of the Catholic Church, ..... 449 

Ch. V. Budget of the Protestant Church in Ireland, .... 461 

Note on the Constitution of the Dissenting Churches, . . 474 

Ch. VI. The Bible Societies, 476 

Ch. VII. Orangeism, 482 

Conclusion, 489 


No. I. (Page xxiii.)— Historical Sketch of the Irish Parliament, . . 499 
No. II. (Page 104). — Case of Mr. Dalton, a Tenant; in the Court of 

Chancery, May, 1860, 501 

No. III. (Page 226). — General Statistics of Emigration from the United 

Kingdom, from 1815 to 1860, inclusive, .... 502 

No. IV. (Page 278). — Note on the constant tradition of Destitution in 

Ireland, 503 

No. V. (Page 331.) — Daily Diet in a Prison and a Workhouse in 

Dublin, 506 

No. VI. (Page 412). — Memorial on the "National Education" system; 

transmitted to Mr. Cardwell, Chief Secretary for Ireland, by 

Nineteen Irish Members of Parliament ; 10 August, 1860. . 507 

No. VII. (Page 446).— Census of Ireland, 1861, 510 

No. VIII. (Prefatory Notice). — Letlre de Mgr. UEveque d 'Orleans 

a Vauteur 516 


The history of Christian and civilized Europe offers nothing 
comparable to what we know of Ireland since the conquest of 
that country by England. 

Great iniquities still exist in the world. Slavery has been 
holding her ground for the last eighty years in the United 
States, and was a stain upon the American Republic long 
before becoming the instrument of her ruin, or at least of a 
scandalous dissolution. In Sweden, civil liberty of conscience 
is still proscribed by laws of another age, and is only bouo-ht 
by exile or loss of property. Perfidy and violence are going 
hand in hand to destroy the nationality of Poland, and crush 
in her the last struggles of Catholic faith by the united force 
of schism and despotism. In fine, there is in the East of Europe 
an anti-Christian empire crumbling away visibly under the 
weight of its own corruption; whose protestations do not 
hinder indignant Europe from requiring an account of the 
thousands of victims butchered by Moslem fanaticism almost 
under our eyes, which empire is, nevertheless, protected by 
the mutual jealousy and distrust of western nations. All these 
facts are so many outrages upon justice, and so many insolent 
triumphs of might over right. 

Even beside these astounding iniquities, that of which Ireland 
has for nearly seven hundred years been the victim deserves 
the attention of the world ; and the bare exposal of her case will 
forthwith win for her the liveliest and deepest sympathy. 

Other nations, even the most unfortunate, have seen days 
of greatness and prosperity ; there is not one amongst them 
which, after the flood of barbarian invasion had begun to sub- 
side, even aniid the painful formation of modern society, did 
not enjoy some influence over neighbouring states, and exer- 
cise an action upon the general economy of European oolitics. 
Even those now bowed down under the most iron yoke can 
remember brighter days, and buoy up invincible hope with the 
memories of a glorious past. 

Poland has had her Jagellons, and will never forget the 
time when, in the hands of her immortal Sobieski, she was 



the bulwark of Europe against the irruptions of Islam ; Venice 
and Genoa once led the commerce of the world ; Spain, so 
long distracted by civil war, once ruled an empire scarcely 
equalled in our times by the British dominion ; Gustavus Vasa, 
Gustavus Adolphus, and Charles XII. gave Sweden, at times, 
a marked preponderance in northern affairs ; the rock of Malta 
itself, to-day but an advanced sentinel of the English fleet 
in the Mediterranean, filled, in the annals of modern times, 
that glorious page which the Villiers de l'lle Adam, the Lava- 
lettes, and the knights of St. John of Jerusalem wrote and 
signed with their blood. 

Ireland has never known such days. At the very moment 
when, after the struggles and divisions of barbarous times, 
the nations of the continent began to settle down in unity and 
strength, her worst days dawned upon her. 

The struggles with the Norsemen, and the more fatal dis- 
sensions of the princes of Ulster and Munster — of the O'Neils 
and O'Briens — were still covering Ireland with smoking ruins, 
and arming the inhabitants one against another for the ruin 
of all, when, by a mysterious lot, she fell a prey to the 
English, and was hurled into that arena in which crimson 
tracks have marked her long and painful course. 

We will briefly recount this lamentable history; and we 
hope to be able to show that if Ireland has succumbed in an 
unequal contest, it is not that at any time valour, devotedness, 
and the most indomitable perseverance were wanting to her. 
These are the very qualities which have protracted the 
struggle, and so long rendered its issue doubtful. 

But besides the fact that her adversaries dared to turn 
against her arms reprobated by honour, and that she could be 
vanquished without disgrace where her conquerors could but 
reap ignominy and shame from their triumph, we may be 
allowed to think that these extraordinary trials of Ireland 
have formed a part of the general plan of Providence in her 
regard. Defeats, like victories, and even more so, have 
their divine significancy ; and if the most grinding and humili- 
ating oppression of the Irish people dates from the time when, 
by a sublime choice, they preferred the sword and famine to 
apostacy, who would not consider their humiliation and reverses 
more glorious than the offensive prosperity of their masters ? 

It is, in truth, a consolation to think that the immortal cause 
of human dignity has been better upheld on that field where 
the shamrock of S. Patrick springs up amidst nothing but 
ruins, in a land drenched with blood, than in that country 
where the spiritual omnipotence of Henry VIII. triumphed, in 
less than a century, over a race haughty and doggedly ten- 


acious whenever the perishable interests of this earth are at 


The English domination in Ireland has had one peculiar 
feature which must be thrown into relief, at the risk of sacri- 
ficing many historical details, sufficiently well known, and 
which have, more than once, been grouped in a masterly 

Ireland is not simply a conquered country, she is a confiscated 
country ; that is to say, the suppression of her nationality and 
the proscription of her religion are not her only wrongs : what 
her oppressors coveted and wrenched from her beyond her 
national independence and religion — (the former destroyed, 
because for that violence sufficed, the other proof against 
persecution, and showing to-day more vitality than ever, 
because the whole world cannot crush conscience) —-was the 
lordship of the Irish soil: so that, as in the wars of antiquity, 
or the times of barbarian invasion, it was the ownership of the 
land which was wrested from the vanquished, it was the land 
itself, and not merely political rights, which the victors claimed 
and seized. An ambition which has upset the world has, at 
times, been able to justify itself by the apparent greatness of 
its object. Is not this greatness missing where glory is less an 
object than plunder, and where the conqueror seems to aim at 
nothing but gain? Now, such has been the inevitable and 
uniform character of all England's wars with Ireland. Whilst 
the green flag of the latter waved only on fields where she 
fought for her faith, the possession of her soil, and her religion, 
the legions of " red coats" braved the perils of battle for lucre. 
The march of conquest and confiscation were simultaneous. 


It was in the month of May, 1169, that the first soldiers 
of Henry II. landed on the eastern coast of Ireland. Scarcely 
more than a century before, William and his Normans had 
dethroned, at Hastings, the old Saxon dynasty. The remem- 
brance of that invasion and conquest was certainly a powerful 
incitement to FitzGerald, Strongbow, and their companions. 
Besides, what could the Irish cavalry, mounted upon small 
ponies, and having no arms of attack but small javelins, and of 
defence but wooden bucklers, do against the long lances and 
mailed steeds of the Normans? Be it said also that a traitor 
had undertaken to give information to the strangers, and that 


from the outset of the Anglo-Norman conquest perfidy 
seconded violence. A King of Leinster, Dermot, expelled 
through hatred of his tyranny, had fled into England: there 
he found Henry II. meditating for fourteen years before on 
the means of executing the bull of donation which he had 
obtained from Adrian IV.* Treason came to offer to too-long- 
restrained ambition the prey it coveted. Henry II. took care 
not to neglect so good an opportunity, and the expedition to 
Ireland was resolved on. A similar crime, crowned with like 
success, had, four centuries before, opened Spain to the Mussul- 
men of Africa, and the name of Dermot has come down to us 
not less execrable than that of Count Julian. 

A rapid but incomplete conquest, succeeded by partial in- 
surrections, and lastly by a general rising, were the phases of 
the invasion from 1169 to 1175. A treaty, concluded at this 
time between Henry II. and Roderick O'Connor — who took 
"upon himself to stipulate in the name of the whole island — 
conferred on Henry the suzerainty of the island, and the 
immediate dominion over the the south-east part, comprising 
the kingdoms of Meath and Leinster, Dublin and its depen- 
dencies, and Waterford as far as Dungarvan. This tract, thus 
become a real English province, w T as called the Pale, on account 
of the pallisades and fortifications enclosing it. 

With the establishment of this armed colony commenced a 
struggle of four centuries, during which the Pale may be 
looked upon as a fortress besieged on the land side, and receiv- 
ing continual reinforcements by sea ; the besieged made fre- 
quent sorties, and sometimes carried fire and sword beyond the 
Shannon; the natives rushed against the English citadel, and 
made heroic efforts to drive into the sea the soldiers of 
Strongbow and Hugh de Lacy. But after bloody encounters, 
the limits of the two powers remained nearly the same ; the 
English not having available force enough to crush at a 
single blow the desperate resistance of the enemy and, un- 
fortunately for Ireland, her native princes not bidding suffi- 
cient truce to their mutual broils to oppose to the invaders a 
compact unity and the final effort of a levee en masse. 

In the fourteenth century, the national party found in 

* It is well known by what means the religious feeling of this Pope was 
surprised. As soon as Henry II. had learned the exaltation of his fellow- 
countryman, Nicholas Breakspere, to the Chair of St. Peter, he sent an 
embassy to him to represent to him the deplorable state to which religion was 
reduced in Ireland— to persuade him that the authority of the Vicar of Jesus 
Christ was completely misconceived there— and to offer to re-establish in that 
unhappy country proper discipline, manners, and obedience to the supreme 
Pastor. Deceived by these hypocritical insinuations, Adrian IV. sent Henry II. 
the bull, of which so perfidious a use was made contrary to his real intentions. 
— (Haverty, History of Ireland, 1860; p. 202.) 


Edward Bruce, and his valiant followers, powerful auxiliaries 
against the English ; but the great battle of Faughard (1318), in 
which Bruce was slain, blighted these hopes ; and although at 
the reign of Edward III. the boundary of the Pale had con- 
siderably shrunk, the English still held enough of ground not 
to give up the idea of a conquest where national pride and 
private greed were so largely engaged. 

Two expeditions of Richard II. again covered Ireland with 
ruins and slaughter, without forwarding the solution of the 
question ; and the terrible struggle of the wars of the Roses, 
in which the fields of England were drenched with her noblest 
blood, did not allow the garrison of the Pale to think of any- 
thing more than holding their own and repulsing the attacks 
of the natives. 

The support given by Ireland, in the reign of the first of 
the Tudors, to two adventurers, wdio attempted to get posses- 
sion of the throne upon which the rights of the houses of 
York and Lancaster were centered in the person of Henry 
VII., proves, that after three centuries of uninterrupted war, 
the English empire in Ireland was anything but stable, since 
one Lambert Simnel, the son of an Oxford tradesman, and a 
young Fleming, Perkin Warbeck, were able to threaten the 
future of the new dynasty ; but these attempts failed, and when, 
under Henry VIII., it was a name dear to Ireland that rallied 
around it all the faithful soldiers of independence, a piece of 
odious perfidy, to which the English general, Lord Leonard 
Gray, stooped, deprived the national party of the brave Thomas 
FitzGerald, and his uncles, who were bold enough to aspire 
after an Ireland free and Irish. All were hanged and quar- 
tered at Tyburn, in the century in which the perilous and 
difficult work of conquest was to be brought to a close. 


Up to the present, territorial confiscation had been effected 
on a limited scale. The unarmed and defenceless alone 
can be despoiled with impunity. During the last four cen- 
turies, the Irish had too valiantly defended their independ- 
ence, to warrant English soldiers, however great their lust of 
plunder, to risk the acceptance of vast domains far from the 
protection of the Pale and the garrison. 

We must distinguish, under Henry II., confiscation in law, 
and confiscation in fact. The first was general, absolute, 
without restriction ; not only inasmuch as the English monarch 
had got himself proclaimed sovereign of the kingdom of 
Ireland, which, according to feudal law, only conferred upon 


him a mediate sovereignty over the land, and not one equiva- 
lent to ownership, — but because Henry divided Ireland as a 
conquered country among his barons; so that, according to 
the testimony of Sir John Davies, Attorney-General in the 
time of James I., " all Ireland was, by Henry, cantonized among 
ten of the English nation ; and though they had not gained 
possession of one-third of the kingdom, yet, in title, they were 
owners and lords of all, so as nothing was left to be granted 
to the natives."* 

As to the occupation of the granted lands, or confiscation in 
fact, it was not to be done by a stroke of the pen ; and many a 
struggle had to be gone through before the royal charters 
came into full operation. 

From the outset Henry II. gave away considerable domains :f 
to Hugh De Lacy, to Richard Strongbow, to FitzGerald, and 
to the principal barons of the invading army4 But these 
lands were situated in Leinster and Meath, i.e., beyond the 
limits of the English Pale.§ It was also by grants of land 
that Richard II. succeeded in gaining over to the royal 
banners a few of the chieftains of Ulster and Munster ; but 
these were but slender beginnings. In the Anglo-Norman 
race prudence and violence go hand in hand for lucre: 
the time had not yet come for safely settling down in the 
remote districts of that island, so fertile in soil, so mild in 
climate; as yet they were but an English army encamped 
in Ireland; they could venture upon murderous forays as far 
as Connacht, but before the barons could build castles 
on the shores of Lough Corrib, or in the rich valleys of An- 
trim || county, the persecuting genius of Elizabeth, the fiscal 
profligacy of James I., and the merciless blade of Cromwell's 
troopers had to be thrown into the scale. 

* (Quoted by Haverty, p. 224. ) 

t To Hugh de Lacy, 800,000 acres ; to another baron, in the County Lime- 
rick, 100,000 acres. (Th. Moore, History of Ireland, ch. xxvii.) 

J " Thus was commenced on a large scale that wholesale confiscation by 
which the land of Ireland was taken indiscriminately from its ancient posses- 
sors, and granted, without any show of title, to the Anglo-Norman adventu- 
rers." (Haverty, History of Ireland, p. 207.) 

§ When the kingdom of Cork had been granted by charter to Robert Fitz- 
Stephen and Milo de Cogan, they only succeeded in getting possession of a few 
cantons of the vast territory many years later ; and when the brothers of the 
Earl of Limerick had been invested with the county of Limerick or Thomond, 
they declined the dangerous gift, which another competitor, Philip de Brason, 
vainly tried to get into his power. 

|| The domains thus granted, but not occupied, have been happily called 
" fiefs in partibiis." (L'Irlande, by Messrs. Chavanne de la Giraudiere and 
Huillard-Brgholles, p. 58.) 



A rapid sketch of English legislation in Ireland during 
these four centuries, will show, in its clearest light, the real 
character of the conquest. That legislation goes farther, even, 
than the memory of armed violence, to justify the eternal 
antipathy of the Irish nation for the masters who have thrust 
themselves upon her. The whole spirit of that legislation is 
summed up in the term habitually used to designate the Irish 
in the official documents of the epoch, " the Irish enemy;" an 
expression which says and explains all, and which itself repre- 
sented a principle of which particular laws were only the appli- 

" Against the stranger," (i.e., against the enemy — the pagans 
had but a single term to express those two ideas,) " eternal 
revenge," was one of the fundamental principles of the bar- 
barous code of the XII. Tables.* 

The application of this principle to the Irish enemy fell into 
disuse only at the end of the eighteenth century; and the 
principle itself was not abrogated until a period not very 
distant from us. 

For the citizen, equality and justice; for the subject, protec- 
tion and kindness; but for him who is not even a subject — for 
him who is an enemy, and a wild enemyf — what, according to 
the ideas of those days, was there other than the brutal law of 
force, and the perseverance of an unrelenting rigour — " adver- 
sus hostem seterna auctoritas." 

A few quotations will show that such certainly was the rule 
followed by the English kings in their dealings with the Irish 

Under Edward I., the native clans nearest the English 
establishments proposed the cessation of all hostilities, and only 
demanded, together with the title of subjects, the benefit of 
English law.| But the name of subjects granted them, 
together with the benefit of the laws, would have saved them 
from the systematized depredations of their powerful neigh- 
bours ; the official title of subjection was, consequently, refused 
them, for fear it might become a title to protection^ 

* Adversus hostem seterna auctoritas. — (Tab. III., Frag. 7, vid. Cic. De Off. 
Book i. chap. 12.) 

t "Wild Irish," as often used as "Irish enemy." Both are found together 
in a French despatch of Richard II. to his council, in 1394 : " Les Irrois 
sauvages, nos ennemis" (quoted by Moore ii. 236). "The term wild Irish is as 
familiar in the English language as the term wild beasts." (Preb. Milner ; 
An Inquiry, p. 232.) 

X The petitioners offered to pay into the royal treasury 8,000 marks as the 
price of this concession. (Moore, ch. 35.) § M. El. Regnault ; V Irl. p. 125. 


A law of the reign of Edward II. (1307-1327) permitted 
every English landlord to destroy the will of any of his Irish 
dependants, and to dispose of their property as he thought 
fit, and even to appropriate it himself.* 

The progress of oppression and misery had induced a certain 
number of Irish to fly their unfortunate country as early as 
the beginning of the fifteenth century : this was the beginning 
of the exodus of which our own times were destined to see the 
lamentable excess. A law of Henry IV. forbade the emigra- 
tion of the " Irish enemy."! 

During the same reign, commerce with the "Irish enemy" 
was forbidden ; every English dealer carrying on business with 
the Irish was to be considered a criminal, and treated as such. 
Commercial relations were not, however, the only things pro- 

But commercial relations were not the only ones interdicted 
and punished. " Every Irishman found talking with an Eng- 
lishman shall be apprehended as a spy, and punished as an 
enemy of the king." — adversus hostem ssterna auctoritas ! 
An act of the fifth year of Edward IV., surpasses the above- 
mentioned in brutal contempt of justice and humanity: — 
" That it shall be lawful to all manner of men that find any 

thieves having no faithful men of good name 

and fame in their company, in English apparel, to take and 
kill those, and to cut off their heads." And a subsequent Act 
imperatively commanded that the Irish within the pale shall 
wear English habit, take English names, and swear allegiance 
upon pain and forfeiture of goods.J 

Every English subject, or Norman, marrying an Irishwoman, 
or wearing the Irish dress, was to be treated as an Irishman, 
i.e., as a serf in body and goods. 

It is hard to say whether cruelty or absurdity predominates 

in the following law: " that any man who did not 

shave his upper lip might be treated as an Irish enemy."§ — ■ 
(Law of 1447, Henry IV.) This law was repealed only in the 
second year of the reign of Charles I. 

The statute of Kilkenny, passed in 1367, contained, among 
other severe measures, destined to separate the two peoples by 
an irreconcilable hatred, a clause making the choice of an Irish 
nurse equal to high treason. 

The textual reproduction of these legislative movements of 

* Moore, iii. 75. 

+ "By an Act of the Parliament, in the 11th year of this reign, it was 
ordained that no Irish enemy should be permitted to depart from the realm, 
without special leave under the Great Seal of Ireland." (Moore, iii. 151.) 

% 5 Ed. IV. cap. ii. and cap. iii. (a.d. 1465.) § Haverty, p. 325. 


the English domination in Ireland, from the twelfth to the 
sixteenth century, is required, in order to take away the air 
of exaggeration and injustice from the following request 
addressed to Pope John XXII., at the beginning of the four- 
teenth century : — 

"Most Holy Father, we send you some precise and truthful information 
with regard to the state of our nation, and the injustice we are under- 
going, and our ancestors have undergone, at the hands of the kings of 
England, of their agents, and of the English barons born in Ireland. 

" After having violently expelled us from our habitations, from our 
fields and our ancestral lands, — after having forced us to save our life by 
fleeing to the mountains, the bogs, the woods and caves, — they are 
perpetually harassing us even here, in order to drive us out, and to 
take possession of our country in all its extent. They have annihilated 
all the written laws by which we were formerly governed. They have 
left us without laws, in order the better to compass our ruin. They have 
enacted detestable ones .... It is the belief of all their laymen, and of 
many of their ecclesiastics, that there is no more sin in killing an Irish- 
man than in killing a dog.* They all maintain that they have a right, 
if they can, to take from us our lands and our goods.f 

" These grievances, added to the difference of language and manners 
existing between them and us, render the idea of any understanding 
between them and us impossible, — so great is their lust of dominion, and 
so lively is our natural desire to rid ourselves of an intolerable servitude, 
and to recover the inheritance of our sires. We have, in the bottom of 
our heart, an inveterate hatred, produced by long injustice, by the 
murder of our fathers, of our brothers, of our near relations ; and one 
which will not be quenched either in our times, or those of our children. 
Thus, then, we are determined to fight, without remorse, as long as we 
live, for our rights; and we will never leave off until the day when they 
shall be unable to do us any more harm, and on which the supreme 
Judge shall have visited their crimes with vengeance, which will happen 
sooner or later, we confidently hope. Until then, Ave will fight to the 
death for independence, which is our natural right, forced thereto as we 
are by every necessity, and choosing rather to brave peril like men of 
heart, than to pine away amidst affronts." J 

A merciless war, in which the sword and law did equal 
execution, having for its object wholesale confiscation of the 

* " Benecognovit quod preedictum Joannem interfecit; dicit tamen quod per 
ejus iuterfectionem feloniam committere non poterit, quia dicit quod prsedic- 
tus Joannes fuit Hibernicus." 

+ And their honor, too. The crime of violation was not punishable by law 
when the victim was an Irishwoman. See a case which happened under 
Edward I. : — Robert de la Roche and Adam le Waleys were indicted for an 
offence of this description against Margery 0'E.orke ; but it being found that 
the aforesaid Margery was an Irishwoman, the aggressors were acquitted. (T. 
Moore, p. 177.) 

% Fordum, Scot. Hist, Ed. Hearne, v. iii. p. 920, translated into French 
by M. Angusin Thierry. 


Irish soil ; such, in two words, is the history of the English 
conquest up to the period when the antagonism of religions, 
added to the national antipathies of four centuries, lent the 
war a more atrocious character, made oppressive laws the 
mightiest instrument of fanaticism, and enlisted in the service 
of the most ignoble cupidity the great names of God, of truth, 
and the Gospel. 


The work of the Reformation* was progressive, and did not 
immediately proceed to extremities of violence. Henry VIII. 
was the first who sought to sever the bonds of obedience and 
love which united the Isle of Saints with the Church of Rome, 
the mother and ruler of all the churches. Edward VI., his 
son, w r ent farther. He added heresy to schism, and backed 
both with that formidable despotism which Henry VIII. had 
bequeathed to his successors in the religious supremacy. 

We shall speak further on of the acts of the first apostles of 
the reformed faith, and of the character which the preaching 
of the new Gospel bore in Ireland. In this general introduc- 
tion it will suffice to sketch rapidly the bloody picture of what 
may be called the second conquest of Ireland. 

Although religious persecution in Ireland dates from the 
reign of Henry VIII., still upon Elizabeth falls the fearful 
responsibility of having inaugurated against the Catholics of 
Ireland a system of oppression coldly calculated to uproot from 
that country every vestige of the old faith. Henceforth devas- 
tations, famines, confiscations, exterminations, succeed one 
another almost unremittingly in unfortunate Ireland. Eliza- 
beth and her successors govern by them, and make them, as it 
were, the normal conditions of the English domination. 

We find in a very curious work of the poet Spencer, one of 
Elizabeth's counsellors, a plan proposed to that princess for 
crushing at a single blow the obstinate resistance of Ireland : 
" The end will (I assure me) be very short, and much sooner 
than can be in so great a trouble as it seemeth, hoped for; 
although there should none of them fall by the sword, nor 
be slain by the soldier, yet thus, being kept from manurance, 
and their cattle from running abroad, by this hard restraint 
they would quickly consume themselves, and devoure one another, ,"f 

One shudders to think that this frightful programme did 
not remain a dead letter; and this same Spencer tells us 

* It cannot form part of our plan to review the two notorious circumstances 
which accompanied the commencement of the Reformation in England. 

f (A Vieiv of the State of Ireland, by Edm. Spencer, Esq. Thorn. Dub. 
1860, p. 525;— ed. 12mo ; Dubl. 1763> p. 158.) 


how it was applied in Minister after the revolt of the Earl of 

" Notwithstanding that the same was a most rich and plen- 
tifull countrey, full of corn and cattle, that you would have 
thought they should have been able to stand long, yet ere one 
yeare and a half e they were brought to such wretchednesse as 
that any stoney heart would have rued the same. Out of 
every corner of the woods and glynnes, they came creeping 
forth upon their hands, for their legges could not bear them ; 
they looked like anatomies of death ; they spake like ghosts 
crying out of their graves ; they did eate the dead carrions, 
happy where they could find them, yea, and one another soone 
after, inasmuch as the very carcasses they spared not to scrape 
out of their graves ; and, if they found a plot of water-cresses 
or shamrocks, there they flocked as to a feast for the time, yet 
not able long to continue therewithal ; that in short space there 
were none almost left; and a most populous and plentiful 
countrey suddainely left voyde of man and beast ; yet sure in 
all that warre, there perished not many by the sword, but all 
by the extremitie of famine, which they themselves had 
wrought." (lb. p. 526.) 

Floras attempting to describe the state of Samnium after 
it had been ravaged by the orders of the senate, and put to 
fire and sword by the legions of Decius Mus and Fabius 
Rullianus, says, with his admirable conciseness : " Everything 
was destroyed, even to the ruins of the towns, so that Samnium 
has to be looked for in Samnium itself, and one cannot easily 
discover the matter of four-and-twenty triumphs.* 

During the reign of Elizabeth, the governors of Carrick- 
fergus and Newry, Sir Arthur Chichester and Sir Samuel 
Bagnel, were not less merciless than the ravagers of Samnium. 
Unable, like the Roman generals, to plead pagan customs in 
their defence, and the horrible public law of antiquity in the 
matter of wars and conquests, they applied to Leinster and 
Ulster the system which had been attended with such success 
in Munster. The soldiers were ordered to destroy the corn 
in the fields, to burn the farm-houses, and to leave the inhabit- 
ants no means of subsistence. 

' These barbarities gave rise to new revolts, causing in their 
turn bloodier repressions. After the Earl of Desmond, the 
great O'Neil took up arms in the north. The uniform issue of 

* Ita rainas ipsas urbium diruit, ut hodie Samnium in ipso Samnio requi 
ratur, nee facile appareat materia quatuor et vigintorum triumphorum. 
(Floras, i. 16.) The Jewish. Law forbade these devastations : " JSTon succides 
arbores de quibus vesci potest, nee securibus percircuitum debes vastare re- 
gionem. — Quoniam lignum est, et non homo, nee potest bellantium contra te 
augere numerum. " (Deut. xx. 19.) 


these rebellions, and of the pitiless wars which followed them, 
was the rapid progress of territorial confiscation. The widest 
application of this process, inaugurated by the barons of Henry 
II., was made at this time. After the revolt of the Earl of 
Desmond was quenched in the blood of the rebels, 600,000 
acres of land were confiscated in the single province of Mun- 
ster (in 1586), and offered in England to anyone who would 
take them, — under certain conditions, however: the first of 
which was, that every single Irish cultivator or farmer should 
be hunted off them.* In this way about 200,000 acres were 
parcelled out among fresh English colonists. 

The consequence was that the depth of the wildest forests, 
and the trackless wastes of the Irish mountains, were the only 
shelter left to the ancient possessors of the soil, thus thrust out 
of their rightful heritage.! 

At the end of her long reign (1558-63), when exhausted 
Ireland, according to Lord Gray, one of Elizabeth's lieutenants, 
was nothing but a heap of ashes and corpses,:}: the " virgin 
queen " gave glory to God, and got a medal struck bearing 
the inscription : " Pacata Hibernia." In the same way two 
centuries and a-half after the cruel daughter of Henry VIII., 
another despot, like her supreme head of a church, hav- 
ing obtained, by a violence considered impossible in these 
late times, the desertion of part of the Ruthenes,§ ordered a 
medal to be struck, " which the latest posterity will see glitter- 
ing on his breast like a damning brand," bearing these words : 
" Separated by hatred in 1525 — united by love in 1839. "H 


The " Pacified Ireland" bequeathed by Elizabeth to her suc- 
cessors was handled precisely in the same manner as the " wild 
and hostile Ireland" of the twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth 
centuries; and, to quote a celebrated saying of Tacitus, never 
misplaced in the case of Ireland, it was by a stern succession of 
ravages and confiscations that what was with heartless irony 
called the royal peace became more and more general.^ 

* None of the native Irish were to be admitted among their tenantry. 
(Leland, ii. 301. Lingard, iv. 399.) "No Irish need apply." Certain English 
houses in Ireland still dare to use the same formula, when advertising for clerks 
or servants. The fusion of the two races is evidently far from accomplished; 
and, at every turn, the national susceptibility of the vanquished is wounded 
by the intolerable arrogance of the victor. 

t Leland, ii. M. Gustave de Beaumont, i. p. 55. 

% " Little was left in Ireland for her Majesty to reign over but carcasses 
and ashes." 

§ A desertion fortunately more apparent than real. 

II UEglise Catholique en Pologne sous le gouvemement Russe, by the Rev. 
Father Lescceur, of the Oratory ; p. 42. 

*<! " Ubi solitudinem faciunt, pacem appellant." 


Under James I., after the real or pretended conspiracy of 
three Irish princes, the six northern countries belonging to 
them were seized, and a half a million of acres handed over 
to fresh English and Scotch adventurers, on the condition, 
however, of their belonging to the Anglican Church ;* and 
when, at last, this "heap of ashes and corpses" had not strength 
enough left to rise, and give colour by new rebellion to new 
butchery, — James, unwilling to leave unfinished the important 
work of confiscation, compassed the same end by another means. 

Most Irish families held possession of their lands but by 
tradition, and their rights could not be proved by regular 
title-deeds. By royal command, a general inquiry was insti- 
tuted; and whoever could not prove his right to the seat of 
his ancestors by authentic documents was mercilessly, but 
juridically, despoiled of it; the pen of the lawyer thus making 
as many conquests as the blade of the mercenary. Hallam and 
Lingard set down at 450,000, the number of acres which, by 
this means, fell to the crown. 

Three out of the four provinces of Ireland, had already 
fallen a prey to Protestant adventurers. There remained 
Connacht, certainly the most wretched of the four. It was 
Strafford, the minister of Charles I., who brought it down to 
the common level, making use, at once, of violence and chicane, 
setting in motion the red uniform and the wig, together. 
According to Lingard, this third confiscation comprised about 
240,000 acres, and would have been completely effected had 
not the courageous resistance of the men of Connacht 
thwarted the realization of a plan in which violence and perfidy 
went hand in hand. 

The formidable insurrection of 1641 checked but a moment 
the irresistible sweep of the English system ; and by drawing 
down the more frightful vengeance of the English Parliament, 
hastened on the time when, from Donegal to Mizen Head, and 
from Galway bay to the bay of Dundalk, the Irish people were 
to become strangers in the land of their birth. 

Money was wanted for this new war of extirpation. It was 
got by mortgaging to the lenders the property of Irish Catho- 
lics.f 2,500,000 acres of land were thus pledged. 

Enriched by means of this mortgage upon the spoils that were 

* "That they should not suffer any labourer that should not take the oath 
of supremacy to dwell upon their land." (Plowden, L, 105.) The six counties 
confiscated were those of Armagh, Cavan, Fermanagh, Derry, Tyrone, and 

f "In exchange for these 2,500,000 acres, the government received 
£1,000,000 sterling, so that it was the Irish themselves who bore the expense 
of the terrible punishment which Protestant fanaticism hastened to inflict 
upon them. It was besides arranged that these 2,500,000 acres should be 


to be made by fire and sword, the Parliament despatched its 
troops, and in the very middle of the seventeenth century, a 
war, which, like that of the mercenaries of Carthage, might 
be termed inexpiable, began between the English soldiery and 
Ireland in arms. 

The substance of the instructions given by the Lords Justices 
to the Parliamentary armies, was : — " To attack, kill, massacre, 
annihilate all the rebels, their abettors and accomplices; to 
burn, destroy, devastate, plunder, consume, demolish all places, 
towns, or houses, where the rebels had been assisted or 
sheltered, all the crops, whether corn or hay ; to kill, to anni- 
hilate all males met in those places." 

They were so faithfully followed, that Ireland became a 
desert ; or, according to a mournful saying, " There was not 
water enough to drown a man, wood to hang him, or earth to 
bury him."* All was not done, however, since there was enough 
left to enable Cromwell to surpass all preceding revellers in the 
slaughter of unfortunate Ireland, and since his name alone is 
a legend of bloodshed and murder, handed down in terror from 
generation to generation, to which popular imagination seems 
powerless to lend any additional horror. 

Upon the accomplishment of this new conquest, the soil was 
once more partitioned. According to a precious MS. belong- 
ing to the family of Sheffield Grace, and quoted by Lingard, 
the amount of land confiscated under the Commonwealth must 
be set down at 7,708,237 acres standard measure.f 

The money-lenders had the first claim upon the spoils of 
Ireland. When they were glutted, came the turn of Crom- 
well's officers and soldiers ; and as even after eight years of 
butchery, executions, and transportations, the Catholic popula- 
tion was too large, and a subject of uneasiness to the 
conquerors, Cromwell tried a bold expedient. Ulster, Leinster, 
and Munster had been handed over either to the London 
merchants or the troopers of the Parliamentary army. Con- 
naught, depopulated by pestilence and the sword, was turned 
into a prison for the surviving Irish. There they were penned 
up, like cattle, a law of parliament legalizing the murder of 
any one found beyond the prescribed limits .% 

exclusively selected from "profitable lands." These figures, therefore, afford 
only an approximate idea of the extent of territory confiscated. The entire 
details of this loan and colonization business may be seen in the ' ' Journal of 
the House of Commons, II., 435, 1st February, 1642, and in RusliwortKs 
Historical Collections, TV. 557. 

* Villemain, Hist, de Cromwell, Book iv. vol. ii, p. 247. 

t Lingard, v. 230. 

X " All of them who, after that time, should be found in any other part of 
the kingdom, man, woman, or child, might be killed by anybody who saw or 
met them." 


We are not thence to suppose that the whole province was 
given up to the Catholics. They were studiously banished 
from the towns,* which were colonized by Protestants, and 
were allowed the privilege of going to die of starvation on the 
bogs stretching from Gal way to Belmullet and Sligo. 

It was then chiefly that the vanquished felt the terrible 
import of the term " wild enemies," which in the official 
language had long been used to designate the men of the Irish 
race, but which from the time of the Reformation became almost 
exclusively synonymous with the term Catholic. In fact, no 
one, even though of English extraction, could, unless he were a 
Protestant, dream of a claim to the rights and guarantees upon 
which, in civilized society, the mutual relations of man with 
man are based. The relative position of the Laconians and 
Helots with regard to the Spartans, gives one a generally 
correct notion of the state to w T hich the Irish people were 
reduced.! On the one hand, ownership of the land and poli- 
tical rights ; on the other, bondage and misery, without any 
share in state concerns. And as the Spartan alone, to the 
exclusion of the tributary Laconian, and the Helot slave, 
enjoyed the privileges of citizenship, so, to the exclusion of 
the ancient lords of the soil, the Protestants of Ireland, either 
bankers enriched by the national ruin, or soldiers of fortune, 
alone represented in the eyes of the government and of the 
law the Irish nation. 


For a moment a ray of hope broke upon the proscribed 
nation at the restoration of the Stuarts, in the person of Charles 
II. : she appealed from this wholesale confiscation to the suc- 
cessor of the prince she had so generously defended. It was 
to no purpose, however, that Louis XIV. wrote several times 
with his own hand to remind Charles II. of the services rendered 
to the Stuarts by faithful and Catholic Ireland. Charles 
wanted the courage to override the misgivings of the Protes- 
tant party : the Restoration was but the sanction and confir- 
mation of the iniquities of preceding reigns. A repartition in 
1675 of more than four millions and a half of acres, seques- 
trated during the parliamentary wars, was nothing but a royal 
" placet " stamped by the hand of a Stuart upon the decrees of 

* " Clearing the town," is the very expression used by a Parliamentary 
general of that time, Sir Charles Coote. 

t The" Times confesses it : " For generations the proprietors of the land in 
Ireland were Spartans among a Helot peasantry, almost planters among 
negro slaves." (May, 1858.) 


spoliation signed by the Long Parliament and Cromwell* Be 
it that Charles yielded to the merciless exigencies of pre- 
valent fanaticism, or to the cowardly promptings of a policy 
unworthy a king; in either case justice was none the less 

Ireland repaid this desertion by untiring devotedness; and 
when the revolution of 1688 had again overturned the throne 
of the Stuarts, the Catholics of Ireland found gold and blood 
for the cause of James II. Hence that implacable animosity 
which, on each succeeding anniversary of the battle of the 
Boyne and the siege of Derry, arms against the peaceful popu- 
lation of the north the murderous fury of the orange lodges, 
and which but lately dyed the streets of Belfast, Derry, 
and Lurgan with blood, to the vociferous shouts of " Long live 
William III.! To hell with the Pope! Down with the 
Papists !"f 

The capitulation of Limerick, signed in 1691, secured to 
the Catholics of Ireland a few rights and a little liberty, and, 
above all others, religious freedom. It had been ratified by 
William III., and we have no reason to suppose that that prince 
did not sincerely intend to see its provisions observed ; but the 
Protestant rancour of parliament was more powerful than the 
good will of the prince. The most vital articles of the capitu- 
lation were ignored, especially in all cases where the Catholic 
religion and the liberties granted to its professors were con- 
cerned ; and four thousand Irish were denounced as traitors 
and rebels, — by which declaration a fresh confication of 
1,060,000 acres was immediately effected.^ 

A glance will suffice to show how rapidly the work of spolia- 
tion had been carried on from Elizabeth to William. Let us 
600,000 acres after Earl Desmond's revolt, . . 600,000 

1,000,000 under James I., 1,000,000 

During the wars of the Commonwealth, . . 7,700,000 
At the beginning of Williams reign, . . . 1,060,000 

This figure is a little under the truth, and does not give us a 

* See in Lingard (v. 331), according to the Sheffield Grace MSS. above 
quoted, the details of this repartition in 1675. 

t On the 12th of July, 1860, an orange body fired upon an inoffensive and 
unarmed crowd at Derrymacash, in the neighbourhood of Lurgan, Many per- 
sons were wounded, one of whom died after a painful agony of some months. 
I was myself in Ulster at the time the legal enquiry into this affair was 

$ Lawrence ii. 48 ; Haliam v. 286 (quoted by M. Gustave de Beaumont, 
1, 91). 


rigidly exact idea of the amount of land confiscated ; for, on 
the one hand, the confications had only extended to the " pro- 
fitable lands," and, on the other, the Church lands made over 
to the dignitaries of the Establishment, besides a, certain 
amount of land held without titles, did not find their way into 
the lists. 

This second conquest of Ireland was begun in 1586 ; and it 
has been calculated, that in 1692, the Irish Catholics, who 
quadrupled the Protestants in number, owned only one-eleventh 
of the soil, and that the most wretched and unproductive por- 
tion. Were we, then, right in saying that by a policy unparal- 
leled in the history of any other Christian nation, which had 
animated with one hatred and united in one injustice both 
Plantagenet and Lancaster, Tudor and Stuart, Puritan and 
Williamite, all dynasties and all parties, Ireland was not only 
a conquered but a confiscated country, and that the English 
domination in Ireland, especially from the time of the refor- 
mation, had borne less the character of a suppression of 
national independence than that of a daring and general 
violation of the rights of property?* 

The expression " plundered nation" is better suited, we 
confess, to the popular boldness of platform eloquence than 
to the sobriety and reserve of history; but at bottom, 
history does not belie it ; on the contrary, it is an expression 
which sums up, with deplorable precision, the greater part of 
Ireland's history. 


The eighteenth century ushers in another period for Ireland ; 
that known by the name of " the penal law" period. It 
was by these new arms that the third conquest of Ireland 
was to be effected. Thereby a kind of homage is paid to the 
progress of the age ; the noise made abroad by massacre and 
wars of extermination is avoided, — a noise which never fails 
to tarnish the escutcheon of a great people. There is a great 
deal to be gained by such a system ; it acts more quietly ; the 
victim, treacherously strangled, is secured without a shriek ; 
and the end of five centuries of stern and bloody effort, will 
be only more surely attained ; that end is to take Ireland from 
the Catholic Celts, and hand her over to English Protestants.f 

* See Lettres of M. Duvergier de Hauranne on Ireland, p. 199. 

t That such has incontestibly been the great aim of English policy in 
Ireland, we know, and have on that point the testimony of Protestant 
authors, certainly not to be accused of partiality towards Ireland — "The 
favourite object of the Irish governors, and of the English Parliament, was the 
utter extirpation of all the Catholic inhabitants of Ireland." (Leland, iii. 192.) 



Did the celebrated Burke characterize too severely the 
system of legal oppression inaugurated by the new dynasty 
against Ireland, when he said that " It was a machine of wise 
and elaborate contrivance as well fitted for the oppression, 
impoverishment, and degradation of a people, and the debase- 
ment in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from 
the perverted ingenuity of man." (Burke's Works, p. 87.) 

Many remarkable works, published both in France and 
Ireland,* upon the penal laws of the eighteenth century, save 
us the task of a complete enumeration of all the intricacies of 
that machine, — a task in which the heart, and not the head, 
suffers ; which leaves after it an unspeakable feeling of disgust ; 
so hideously are the most repulsive of human passions revealed 
in all their nakedness. 

Let the reader judge by a few quotations of the general 
epirit of these laws, " all political in their consequences, without 
ever ceasing to involve an exclusively religious principle."! 

If the eldest son of a Catholic family became a Protestant, 
the very fact invested him with the ownership of his parents' 
property; who had for the future nothing but the revenue 
coming from it, and who stood to their son in the position of 
tenants to their landlord.^ A rigorous but necessary law, says 
Gordon, the Protestant historian. Precisely the way in which 
the Pro-consuls of '93 will speak of the " drownings" at Nantes, 
and of the hecatombs of human victims slaughtered in the Place 
Louis XV. ; whatis it but childishness to dispute about the means, 
when the sovereignty of the end is laid down as a principle ? 

No Catholic could be guardian to Catholic children. In case 
a Protestant guardian had not been appointed by the family, 
it was the duty of the Chancellor of Ireland to choose one for 
the Catholic minor. § 

All Catholics acting as tutors were banished from Ireland. 
Those who returned to their country incurred sentence of 
death. || 

"It is evident, from the Lords Justices last letter to the Lieutenant, that they 
hoped for an extirpation not of the mere Irish only but of all the English 
families that were Roman Catholics." (Warner, p. 176.) "Extirpation 
preached for Gospel." (Carte's Ormoncl, iii. 170.) And those of the national 
party who, to-day, protest against these lamentable evictions of tenants which 
seem to be the basis of a new system of economy, are not to be accused of 
exaggeration when they complain that the old Celtic race is being swept out 
of Ireland. They only say what the force of truth has made many English- 
men say before them, who were not prejudiced in Ireland's favour. 

* Scully's Penal Laws—G. Lewis's Irish Disturbances— M. Gustave de 
Beaumont Introduction Historique, 3rd epoch. Nothing is more interesting 
than the sketch of the penal laws, as M. de Beaumont has traced them m this 
portion of his admirable work. 

f M. Gustave de Beaumont, i. p. 125. 

J Stat, of 2 Anne, c. vi. s. 3. § lb. s. 4. || 8 Anne, c. m s. 34. 


If a priest married a Catholic to a Protestant, the penalty was 

All bishops or ecclesiastical superiors whatever, having the 
power to ordain, were banished ; in case of return, sentence of 
death was incurred.f 

Catholics were excluded from parliament, from public offices, 
and from the liberal professions, except that of medicine.^ 

By a law of 1703, modified in 1778, and repealed only in 
1782, Irish Catholics were declared incapable of acquiring 
landed property.§ They might become farmers, but under 
the following conditions : their lease must not exceed thirty 
years, a period regarded in Ireland at that time as very short ; 
and during the whole run of the lease, the rent must, at least, 
equal two-thirds of the produce of the land.|| 

As to manufacturers, the English parliament ordered the 
destruction of the Irish woollen manufactures ; and the parlia- 
ment of Dublin servilely endorsed this all-important sentence 
decreed in favour of British monopoly. — (June, 1698, and 25th 
March, 1699.) 

The parliament of London decreed, moreover, that whoever 
infringed the law made in favour of English manufactures, 
should be liable to a trial before the courts both of England 
and Ireland ; and in case of an acquittal in the latter country, 
he might at any time be again seized and tried in an English 
court.^[ " That is to say," says M. Gustave de Beaumont, 
citing this law, " that the primary forms and principles of justice 
were violated, in order to uphold a piece of iniquity." — (i. 99.) 

No Catholic could take more than two apprentices.** 

Catholics were forbidden to keep horses worth more than five 
pounds : any Protestant was empowered to seize the best horse 
belonging to a Catholic, upon the payment of this sum. It is 
worthy of remark, that the offence here mentioned is not one's 
appearance in public with fine horses, — it is the simple fact of 
possessing them. If a Catholic showed his horses, they were 
taken from him ; if he concealed them, he was punished.f f 

Enough of this wearisome enumeration of laws and orders, 
with which those who to-day hail in the orange revolution of 
1688 the dawn of an era of liberty and justice are but too 
little acquainted. About this time, a young Oxfordman, des- 
tined to become, later, the first statesman of his country, sang 

in Latin verse the tutelary divinities of Great Britain — 

* 8 Anne, c. iii. s. 26. t 9 Will., c. i. 

| 3 Will. ; 2 Anne, c. vi. s. 16 ; 1 Geo. II., c. 20. Scully's Penal Laws, 
p. 65. M. G-ustave de Beaumont, 109, &c. 

§ 2 Anne, c. vi s. 6. || 2 Anne, c. vi. s. 6 ; 8 Anne, c. iii. 

f Plowden, i. 204. ** 18 Anne, g. 37- 

tt 7 Will. III., c. v. ss. 10, 11, 36. 


' ' Aiiglicae, vos, a prsesentia numina gentis, 
Libertas, atque alma Themis " 

Lord Chatham would have hesitated, we imagine, to prefix 
these two verses as a motto to the " Collection of Penal Laws ;" 
and, certainly, the scorching words of Turgot would be better 
suited to the subject: — 

" The tyranny of one people over another is the most in- 
tolerable of all, and the most hopeless for the victim : because 
the despot is either stayed by the consideration of his own 
interest, or restrained by remorse or public opinion ; whereas 
a multitude makes no calculation ; it has no remorse, and 
decrees itself glory when ignomony is its desert." 


The most shameful circumstance in the system of oppression 
carried on by England towards Ireland is, that its rigour 
never abated except in times of peril, when she was scared by 
the prospect of Ireland's joining her enemies. Thus, when 
the Pretender landed in Scotland, and his first successes had 
revived the hopes of the Jacobites, the Catholics of Ireland 
were allowed to open their chapels on St. Patrick's day, and the 
imprisoned priests were set at large. Nine days after the 
battle of Culloden, however, Lord Chesterfield, whose adminis- 
tration in Ireland had been characterised by mildness and 
equity, was recalled.* 

During the seven years' war, the government fears a French 
invasion. Catholics, still called in the official language the 
" common enemy" are called by the speaker of the House of 
Commons, " a respectable hody^ 

In 1776 the American insurrection breaks out; it becomes 
the starting-point of numerous and important concessions to 
the people of Ireland. Her oppressors felt that, to perpetuate 
the existing regime without any mitigation of its severity, 
would be to endanger their power: fanatical hatred dictated 
it ; prudent egotism modified it. Ireland began to undersand 
that to obtain justice from England one must be feared by 
her, and that the only language which convinces her is not 
that of right, but of might. 

Appalled by the dangers which encompassed her, England, 
then at war with France, North America, and Spain, withdrew 
her troops from Ireland. A great national military movement 
followed the recall of the English regiments. The United 
Volunteers' Association put Ireland in possession of an army 

* Plowden, ii. 


of sixty thousand men ; and after numerous meetings held in 
the country, an address (1782), presented to the king upon 
the motion of the renowned Grattan, obtained the repeal of the 
Poyning's law, which, from the time of the first Tudor, had 
subjected the legislative powers of the Irish parliament to that 
of London. 

The impetus once given to the national movement, it went 
farther still. An association, under the title of the "United 
Irishmen," formed in 1792, opened its ranks to Catholics and 
Protestants indiscriminately, and demanded equality of political 
rights for all. This was a counter-blow of the French Revo- 
lution; and if the Constituent Assembly of '89 had more 
than once adopted the ideas and example of the American 
Republicans, the Irish patriots in their turn took them for 
their models and guides, in the path of equality and justice, 
to which their country was almost a stranger. 

These were alarming symptoms for England: a rupture 
might at any time take place ; she had lost the American 
colonies, because her stiffness and haughtiness prevented her 
from abating her unjust pretensions. After the stern lesson 
of 1776 and 1783, however, in default of justice, egotism pre- 
vailed. The statesmen of Great Britain flung a few concessions 
to the Irish Revolution, hoping to satisfy and calm it. The 
bar, hitherto inaccessible to Catholics, was thrown open to them 
by a law of the 14th June, 1792. The prohibition of mixed 
marriages was withdrawn. Catholic parents recovered the 
right of educating their children as they pleased. Catholics 
were allowed to sit on juries, and the right of voting in the 
elections, if not that of being elected, was granted to them.* 

Tardy and incomplete concessions, however, are usually as 
powerless to disarm an incipient revolution, as they are to prop up 
a crumbling power. The "United Irishmen" were not, like the 
" United Volunteers," satisfied with the legislative indepen- 
dence of the Irish parliament. They aimed at absolute separa- 
tion, distinct nationality, complete independence; and as in the 
great challenge which the France of '93 had thrown down to 
the old powers of Europe, she had boldly called upon all nations 
to strike for liberty, the United Irishmen asked for and 
obtained her aid for the purpose of tearing Ireland away from 
the grasp of England. 

Even to-day this question of a French invasion, as a means 
of securing the independence of Ireland, is warmly debated 
by the members of the Irish national party .f 

* Belief Bill, Jan. 1793. 

+ See in the papers of January and February, 1861, the discussion between 
Mr. John Martin and Mr. Smith O'Brien. 


In 1796, the secret Directory of Dublin hesitated not to 
appeal to the Directory of Paris. The celebrated Theobald 
Wolfe Tone was deputed to stipulate concerning the conditions 
of this armed assistance ; and on the 14th of December, 1796, a 
fleet with 15,000 men, commanded by General Hoche, made 
for Bantry Bay. A violent storm scattered the vessels com- 
posing the expedition, which had no result but that of warning 
the English government. Without loss of time, it ordered a 
general disarming ; and this measure was executed with such 
brutality, often with such cruelty, that, instead of rendering an 
insurrection impossible, it only hastened its outbreak * 

The chief theatre of the insurrection of 1798 were the south- 
east counties, 

A skirmish with the English on the far-famed hill of Tara, 
a fruitless attempt upon Dublin, and two other defeats, one 
near Wicklow, the other at Vinegar Hill, near Wexford, soon 
annihilated the rebel army. The Presbyterians of Ulster, who 
had risen in their turn, were not more successful ; and when 
the French general, Humbert, disembarked in Killala bay 
(co. Mayo), in August, 1798, he found Ireland prostrate from 
the disasters which had lately befallen her, and unable to second 
his bold attempt. Fifteen hundred men, drawn from the 
armies of Italy and the Rhine, was the whole force at the 
disposal of the republican general. He pushed, however, 
unhesitatingly forward into the interior of the country ; routed 
before Castlebar four thousand English, under General Lake, 
in an action which cost them eight hundred men and ten 
pieces of cannon, and entered the town. Thence he continued 
his march across the wilds and bogs of Connaught, towards 
Dublin. Thirty thousand English, commanded by the viceroy, 
Lord Cornwallis, in person, intercepted on its march the repub- 
lican army, reduced to eleven hundred men. Humbert did 
not shrink from an engagement: the English were thirty to 
one ; but the republicans stood their ground so gallantly, and 
made such good fighting, that Lord Cornwallis was glad to 
grant them honorable terms. The French, on laying down 
their arms, numbered only eight hundred and forty-four men, 
officers included. 

In September, 1798, another naval expedition was sent by 
the Directory to the Ulster coast. The English admiral, Sir 

* Frequently, under pretext of a search for arms, the inhabitants were put to 
the torture. Their heads were tarred, and the hair torn out. Some were hanged 
and cut down hah dead ; others were flogged till the blood ran, and their 
wounds covered with salt and pepper. If the peasants of a village, containing 
not a single gun, did not produce some at the first summons, the soldiers set 
fire to the houses. They were often, too, made prisoners in their houses, and 
shot before the doors. — (El. Regnault, Vlrl. p. 216.) 


John Warren, with a superior force at his command, rendered 
unavailing the heroic efforts of the French fleet. Theobald 
Wolfe Tone, holding the rank of adjutant- general in the French 
service, was made prisoner. Sentenced to death by a court- 
martial, and sent by the noble impartiality of Lord Kil warden 
to stand his trial before the ordinary court, he had not the 
patience to await the execution of a juridical sentence, and by 
a blameable weakness, lost the honor of being publicly immo- 
lated to the hatred of Ireland's oppressors. 

As soon as the British government was relieved from the 
dread of a national insurrection, and foreign invasion was no 
longer to be feared, — when from one extremity of Ireland to 
the other force had triumphed, — the cruelty of her vengeance 
was in proportion to the danger which had threatened her do- 
mination. The tale of this bloody retaliation must be read in 
Gordon ; — a retaliation in which the work of the soldiery paled 
before that of the executioner, and in which the worst passions 
were let loose, coldly and cunningly, upon the scattered rem- 
nants of the national party. 

The appetite for hanging and mutilation of the lifeless 
victims palled at last.* In order, however, to strike a decisive 
blow, and to turn to account the stupor and prostration of 
unfortunate Ireland, consequent upon her disasters, it was 
resolved to strip her of the last vestige of political liberty and 
national independence. The suppression of the Dublin Parlia- 
ment was decided upon. 

In vain twenty-one out of the thirty- two counties of Ireland 
protested against this suppression : in vain the Irish Parliament 
itself opposed a formal vote to the ministerial project! 
Pitt and Lord Castlereagh triumphed over this opposition, 
not by force but by corruption : gold achieved the conquest 
begun by steel. To the eternal shame of both buyers and 
bought, we know the exact figures of the bargain, — made in 
1800, — between the English minister and the wretches who, in 
defiance of all the laws of justice and honour, bartered away 
the independence and dignity of their country .$ 

Thus was effected, after an uninterrupted struggle of six 
hundred and thirty-one years (1169 — 1800) the union of Eng- 
land and Ireland. To appreciate the value of such a compact, 
we have only to bear in mind the long series of events which 
paved the way for it, the circumstances in the midst of which 
it was made, the ceaselessly-renewed protestations which 

* Gordon, ii, 384, 391, 399, 419, 466. 

+ See in appendix No. I. an historical sketch of the vicissitudes of the Ijjjsh 
Parliament, from the invasion of Henry II. until the " Union Act." 
X Grattau's speeches, iv., 37- M. Gust, de Beaumont, i., 197, 198. 


followed it; and tlieii, applying the ordinary rules of law in 
the matter of contracts to this case, we ask: If the employ- 
ment of violence and fraud nullify human contracts ; if, 
according to the maxims which prevail among civilized nations, 
contracts are worthless unless made in all freedom by the con- 
tracting parties, what is to be thought of the " act " which 
united Ireland to England, of which we may say, in all the 
truthfulness of historical language, that its preamble was 
dictated by force, that corruption payed for the adoption of 
its clauses, and that the signatures attached to it were a dis- 
graceful avowal of cowardice.* 


The misfortunes^ Ireland had only been aggravated by 
her appeal to arms. Catholic as she almost exclusively is, 
she was represented in the Imperial Parliament solely by 
Protestants ; and although the infamous code of penal laws 
had disappeared before the dreaded influences of the American 
and French revolutions, yet political and civil inequality, 
religious oppression, and social misery, the inevitable results 
of seven centuries of tyranny, still held their ground, and 
whilst perpetuating in the nineteenth century the evil traditions 
of by-gone ages, wrought for England difficulties which she 
has not yet completely mastered. 

From the period of the suppression of the Dublin Parlia- 

* This application of the rules of civil and ecclesiastical law to the " Union 
Act" between Ireland and England is not devoid of interest. "Ad 
contractus valorem requiritur ut consensus sit : 1, internus et verus ; 2. liber 
ac plene deliberatus ; 3. externis manifestatus ; 4. mutuus.,. . ." " Con- 
sensui in contractibus adversantur omnis metus, error, et insuper omnis calli- 
ditas, fallacia, machinatio ad circumveniendum, fallendum, decipiendum 
alterum adhibitse." {Digest, passim. Scavini De Contract, Tract. VI., Disp. 2, 
Diss. 2, cap. i., art. 3.) "Decernit sancta Synodus inter raptorem et raptam 
quamdiu ipsa in potestate raptoris manserit, nullum posse consistere matri- 
monium. Quod si rapta a raptore separata, et in loco tuto et libero constituta, 
ilium in virum habere consenserit, earn raptor in uxorem habeat. Et nihilo- 
minus raptor ipse, ac omnes illi consilium auxilium et fa.vorem praibentes, sint 
ipso jure excommunicati ac perpetuo infames." (Oonc. Trid. Sess. XXIV. De 
Be form. Matrim. c. vi.) 

The subscribers to the National Petition, presented to Queen Victoria in 
1861, claimed, at the hands of Government, nothing but the use of Ireland's 
right to pronounce freely, — by universal suffrage, — upon the value of the con- 
tract of 1800. If Ireland voted for the ' Union,' 1 what is to-day nothing more 
than a '■fait accompli should be recognised as valid. If, as in 1800, twenty- 
one out of thirty-two counties pronounced in favour of its repeal, — that is to 
say, two-thirds of the nation — there would be no reason why Lord Palmerston 
and his colleagues should not apply to Ireland the doctrines they so loudly 
applauded, and energetically encouraged in Italy. We must not, however, 
forget the old axiom of the law of the ' Twelve Tables.' Here again, although 
unseen, it intervenes between the conscience of the governors and the governed. 
" Ad versus hostem cetema auctoritas." 


ment in 1800, two questions have eclipsed and indeed summed 
up all others for Ireland: — the Emancipation of Catholics, and 
the Repeal of the Union. 

In 1760, a committee was formed and attempted, by means 
of petitions to Parliament and the Crown, to direct the atten- 
tion of government to the insulting position taken up by the 
Protestants toward Irish Catholics. Reorganized successively 
in 1790, 1809, and 1813, this committee became in O'Connell 
and Shiel's hands in 1823, the celebrated " Catholic Asso- 

The history of this Association, and its general influence 
upon Ireland, would alone fill a volume. It was the life of 
the people, crushed as they were during the first quarter of 
this century; and thanks to the wisdom, which, in its acts, 
always seconded its power, it obtained, in 1829, one of the 
most signal successes which can crown man's efforts in this world. 
O'Connell's election for the county Clare, greeted with 
universal enthusiasm by the Irish people, might have been 
annulled. To open to him the doors of the palace of West- 
minster was simply to strike the deadliest blow at Protestant 
supremacy that had been dealt since the laws of Elizabeth and 
the triumphs of the orange party ; whereas to close them upon 
him was, perhaps, to run the risk of a bloody and protracted 
struggle. Europe was looking on; and to outdo the fanaticism 
and tyranny of the Turk, two years after contributing to his 
defeat and humiliation at the battle of Navarino, would simply 
make England the by-word of Europe. The Wellington 
ministry sacrificed to necessity what justice had been power- 
less to obtain. The bill of Emancipation, passed on the 13th 
April, 1829, was submitted to the royal sanction, and George 
IV. signed an act of reparation and justice, with a shudder; 
for he was breaking with all the traditions of English policy 
in Ireland. 


This concession was either too great or too small. It 
did not solve all the difficulties which this disputed and ever- 
precarious conquest had made for England. Doubtless it was 
a great deal that the member for the county Clare should be 
able to sit in the British Parliament, and be allowed to ani- 
mate, by his impassioned eloquence, the debates of the Com- 
mons; but there was one question the discussion of which 
was never tolerated, and which was taken as a kind of consti- 
tutional postulate, a state axiom, the liberty to examine which 
was not acknowledged ; this question was that of the existence, 


organization, and revenues of the official Church in Ireland. 
Useless to, or hostile towards, seven-eighths of the population, 
it acted as a granite rampart, behind which cowered a thousand 
other revolting abuses, which ages of oppression and intolerance 
seemed to have ingrafted upon the political and social body in 

It soon became clear, and impartial Protestants saw and 
understood it, that after the Emancipation Act a great deal 
remained to be done. The sincerity of the promoters of the 
bill of 1829, had driven them to admissions of a very instruc- 
tive character.* 

There was no counting on the motu proprios of the British 
cabinet. The impulse moreover once given, the people 
under the guidance of their talented chief, had learned the 
difficult art of fighting, with legality for their sole weapon — 
of combining irresistible ardour with the restraint of dis- 
cipline — and of curbing those great passions which are so seldom 
governable in the multitude. Emboldened by his first success, 
O'Connell aimed at another: the question of the Repeal of 
the Union was broached; and during fifteen years, Ireland 
hung upon the breath of a single man. 


The first few years subsequent to the Emancipation Act had 
been signalized by a number of acts of redress, emanating 
from the Whig Cabinet, which it is the duty of impartial 
justice to state. 

In 1833, for instance, church rates, an unjust tax, levied 
by Protestants upon the Catholics of all parishes, for the main- 
tenance of the Establishment, were abolished. 

In 1838, on account of the disorders and quarrels to which 
the tithe-gathering had given rise, that tax was reduced by a 
fourth, and levied upon the landlords, who, of course, imme- 
diately increased the rents of their tenants in proportion. 

Other modifications, to which we shall return later, were 
introduced into the organization of corporations, of the magis- 
trature, and the administration of justice. They evidenced a 
sincere desire in their authors to redress the old standing 
grievances, and to lighten as far as possible the burthen of 
the Union for Ireland. 

This burthen did not, however, weigh any the less heavily 
upon the nation. Was it not the resume, and the sanction, of 
seven hundred years of war, plunder, and oppression? Be- 

* We shall return to these admissions later. 


sides, arguments arising out of recent facts, to which the nation 
could not be indifferent, were in opposition with it. 

When the Act of 1800 was passed, the national debt of 
Ireland amounted to twenty-eight millions sterling, that of 
England being at the same time four hundred and fifty millions. 
It is evident from the difference in these two amounts, that 
taxation in Ireland could not be upon the same scale as in 
England. A special scale of taxation was, therefore, made out 
for Ireland, and formed an article in the Union Act. As, how- 
ever, it was beyond Ireland's means, the Exchequer of London 
lent her a sum, the result of which was, that in fifteen years 
the debt of Ireland amounted to one hundred and twelve, 
instead of twenty-eight millions sterling, while England's debt 
had scarcely doubled. Ireland, it is evident, paid more than 
her share in that terrible war with France, — -repugnant to her 
dearest memories and her liveliest sympathy. This prodigious 
increase of the Irish debt was simple bankruptcy. Advantage 
was taken of it to unite the two exchequers, — to destroy the 
proportional difference of taxation between the two countries — 
and to saddle upon Ireland the financial engagements into 
which England had entered during the seventeenth and eight- 
eenth centuries, more than once to cover the expense of 
ravaging and crushing her. 

Another fact put in its clearest light the result to the van- 
quished country of her pretended legislative equality with the 
victorious one. When the question of levying the Income-tax 
in Ireland was brought forward, of her hundred and five repre- 
sentatives seventy-two voted against the measure, thirty-one 
only voted in favour of it, and two did not vote at all. In this 
case, as in so many others, the proofs of which may be found 
in Hansard's immense collection,* a majority of English and 
Scotch Protestants forced upon Ireland a measure, which she 
had rejected by her representatives. 

These, and other grievances, — not to speak of the astounding 
perseverance w r ith which, in the midst of her misfortunes, 
during ages of oppression and slavery, Ireland had devoutly 
cherished the memory of her existence as a nation,— gave an 
immediate and immense popularity to the Association for the 
Repeal of the Union. 

The year 1843 witnessed the fullest grandeur of this 
patriotic and formidable Association, and of those meetings 
at Donnybrook, Tuam, and Baltinglass, where more than a 
hundred thousand manly hearts thrilled at the voice of the 
Liberator, and simply awaited a sign from him to rush 

* Hansard's Parliamentary Debates. 


into all the hazards of a physical struggle. But this signal 
the Liberator, faithful to his programme of legal agitation 
and constitutional resistance, did not give; confident in the 
justice of the cause, discarding an appeal to force, and 
hoping that once again, under his auspices, right would triumph 
single-handed. Accordingly, when the snare of the 8th of 
October had, by the perfidy of the ministry, nearly driven 
Ireland into the struggle, which the agitators had hitherto 
avoided, O'Connell did not hesitate to disperse the seven or 
eight hundred thousand repealers, who had assembled from all 
parts on the plain of Clontarf. 

A few days afterwards, O'Connell and several other chiefs 
of the Association were indicted; and their trial gave an im- 
mense currency in the whole of Europe to the grievances of 
Ireland. It is just to add that the verdict of guilty brought in 
against them was set aside by the House of Lords ; and that 
the scandalous means* by which this verdict had been obtained 
were eloquently stigmatized in the House of Commons by Lord 
John Russell and Lord Macaulay, at that time members of 
the Opposition. 


During the following years (1845, '46, '47) nameless cala- 
mities befell Ireland, which caused England extraordinary 
embarrassment, and entailed upon her a fearful responsibility. 
The potato disease made its first appearance in the autumn of 
1845 ; a disease which troubled the whole of Europe, but which 
in Ireland destroyed the only food of the agricultural popula- 
tion, and at one stroke reduced six millions of men to all the 
agonies of famine.! By means of private subscriptions, how- 
ever, the first months of 1846 were passed, if not without great 
suffering at least without any extreme disaster. The summer 
of that year, unlike that of the preceding one, was dry and hot. 
The potatoes looked in excellent condition ; when in the space of 
a single night the fatal disease, like one of the plagues of Egypt, 
attacked and destroyed the whole crop. Ireland had lost 
sixteen millions of money in a few hours.! 

Under these frightful circumstances began the year 1847, — 
ever memorable for the horrors of the Irish famine, and for 
miseries such as are supposed to have died out with the bar- 
barous ages. Very soon the workhouses found it impossible 

* "Packed Jury." This is an essential part of the English constitution in 
Ireland. We shall return to it in a future place. 

t The population of Ireland exceeded at thafc time eight millions. 
Speech of the Marquis of Lansdowne. Times, of January 16, 1847. 



to give shelter and food to the thousands of unfortunate beings 
in distress ; and then it was that in all parts, but more particu- 
larly in the mountainous districts of Munster and Connaught, 
scenes of desolation were witnessed, before which, said Lord 
Brougham, the frightful descriptions of Thucydides paled, 
and the terrible 33rd Canto of Dante, where Ugalino and 
his sons are represented in the Tower of Hunger, faded away. 
Famine and emigration thinned the population of Ireland of 
two millions in ten years ; and to-day even, twelve years after 
this awful visitation, it is impossible to traverse the southern 
and western districts without coming at every step upon what 
are justly termed the " stigmata" of the famine. 

Although very much shaken by the trial of the Liberator, the 
Repeal Association had held up ; but from that time it declined 
very rapidly in influence. On the one hand the starving people, 
who barely sufficed to bury their dead, had no time to give to 
meetings; and a question more solemn and engrossing than 
the most national questions themselves pressed upon Ireland 
during these fatal years. That question was one of life or 
death: to be or not to be. On the other, when the country 
began to recover from this immense disaster, and to right 
herself, like a dismantled ship, after the fury of the tempest 
is past, and the ocean is again calm, division began to show 
itself in the camp of the Repealers. O'Connell was reproached 
with the sterility of his legal agitation , with which England had 
sported for fifteen years. He was reminded that England 
had never been known from time immemorial to yield to 
justice, but to force alone. It was "Young Ireland" that gave 
utterance to these complaints, that after the death of O'Connell, 
succeeding to the thorny inheritance of his mission of agitation, 
entered resolutely on a path which the Liberator had not 
trodden, and into which the country was not destined to 
follow it. 

In 1848, this party, headed by men of undoubted talent, 
thought the moment at hand to put the finishing stroke to 
the unachieved work of O'Connell. It was the time when 
the mighty breath of a new revolution was overturning thrones. 
England was far from being unconcerned in these continental 
catastrophes ; she was secretly rejoicing at events, in the 
accomplishment of which she had invested something more than 
sympathy and encouragement, when she found herself in 
presence, in Ireland, of some of those difficulties which she 
delighted to create for the sovereign of Naples, and the 
Pontiff-king of Rome. 

She saw and measured the extent of the danger, and by 
skilful precaution, as well as by energetic action, triumphed 


over this, the greatest peril which had threatened her since the 
" Union." By suspending the working of the constitution, 
and of the Habeas-corpus Act, increasing the rigour of 
coercion-bills, making simple press crimes "treason- felony," and 
striking a decisive blow on the first appearance of a rising, she 
paralyzed the bold but premature attempt of Mr. Smith 
O'Brien, in the summer of 1848, The chief leaders of the 
movement were immediately condemned and transported. 
This check completely worsted the national party; and, after 
this short interruption, England was again able to take up 
the thread of her designs upon the continent, and to prepare 
at no distant period for the other sovereigns of the continent 
the difficulties through which she had passed unscathed. 

Accustomed as we are, on the continent, to associate with 
the idea of such movements the working out of revolutionary 
and socialist designs, we should be disposed to imagine that 
the movement of 1848 in Ireland bore the same character of 
our own troubles : this would, however, be a great mistake ; 
the foiled attempt of Mr. Smith O'Brien, in the county 
Tipperary, aimed solely at the same result as the old revolts 
of the O'Neills and the Fitzgeralds; — that is to say, the ruin 
of the English domination in Ireland, and the political inde- 
pendence of the country by her reinstatement in her autonomy 
and nationality. 


From that time Ireland has scarcely had any other 
pre-occupation than that of healing the deep wounds inflicted 
by the famine. She has been more occupied with providing 
for her mere existence than in political agitation. For her part, 
England, glad to have escaped the dangers of 1848, and 
engaged in those distant Crimean and Indian struggles, where 
the aid of her Irish soldiers was absolutely indispensable, 
seems to have adopted with regard to Ireland a more moderate, 
wiser, and consequently more skilful policy. The national 
party has been divided by artful concessions, and as its only 
strength was in union, these divisions have completely 
neutralized its influence as a representative body in the 
British Parliament. The ministry scarcely troubles itself 
about the feeble attempts at opposition which still show 
themselves; people are pleased to attribute them to an old and 
incurable spirit of hostility towards England; and accustomed 
as they are to hear the complaints of the Irish members, little 
attention is bestowed upon them. 

What is the present condition of Ireland? What traces of 


British confiscation and oppression are still visible in that 
unfortunate country? Are the complaints of the national 
press founded? Ought they to awake in the conscience of a 
foreigner, an impartial observer, and in the conscience of 
Europe, the same echo which they undoubtedly do in the great 
mass of the Irish people? Are the concessions made by 
England since 1829 a sufficient reparation for her past policy? 
What still prevents the mutual embrace of justice and peace 
in that island covered with ruins and reeking with blood? In 
a word, what is the Ireland of to-day? To answer these 
questions, the present long and difficult inquiry, of which this 
book is the summary, was undertaken. 

The reader will soon be convinced that nothing has been 
spared to render it as complete, and above all as impartial, as 
possible. The information obtained from others, however 
extensive, was not deemed sufficient. After having prepared 
and printed a long list of questions, touching all the points we 
had begun to examine, we went to Ireland to look for the 
answers to these questions, checking one set of evidence by 
others, and all by a personal and most attentive examination of 
the state of the country, the working of the institutions, and 
the minutest details of social life. This book, already three 
parts written before our journey, has been recast, written over 
again, modified when necessary, but principally enlarged and 
developed by the numerous and important documents which 
we brought back with us to France. 

We may say that it has been written twice ; and we have 
consented to hand it over to publicity only after having sub- 
mitted it to the searching examination of men the most competent 
and best able to point out its defects, to expose its inaccu- 
racies, and to fill up any gaps or omissions that might have 
escaped us. 

Notwithstanding all these precautions, this book will clash 
with so many prejudices, and will inevitably run counter to so 
many powerful passions, that its author will incur more ill-will 
for having told the truth than he will meet with thanks for 
the moderation and charity with which he has endeavoured to 
expose it. What merit, however, would there be in devoting 
oneself to great causes, if one were to gain by it only the 
applause and esteem of men. The important, or more truly, 
the only thing necessary is, in this, as in everything else, to do 
one's duty, and according to the expression of God to the 
Prophet, " to free one's soul."* The rest depends not upon us. 

* Ezechiel, iii. 19. 





The grievances of Ireland are certainly not, thank God, what 
they were twenty years ago : happy reforms have been intro- 
duced into the administration ; praiseworthy concessions have 
been made ; and to say that there has been no change for the 
better, since M. de Beaumont wrote his excellent book, would 
be a manifest exaggeration. 

On the other hand is it not quite as palpable an exaggera- 
tion, the motives of which are less disinterested, and the 
consequences graver, to maintain, as many of the London 
papers have so often done, that oppression has totally disap- 
peared in Ireland; that there remains but one abuse in the 
country, that of the Established Church; that in the matter of 
taxes Ireland is a privileged land ; that as far as regards govern- 
ment, perfect equality exists between Englishmen and 
Irishmen, Catholic and Protestant; finally, that if Ireland 
would lay aside her rancour, and completely forget the past for 
the bright prospects of the future, she might, on this single 
and easy condition, be as happy as she is free, and crown 
thereby the work of her salvation? What, then, is to be 
thought of her civil and political equality with England, and 
of her financial privileges ? Is it true that the Irish do not 
bear* ; the same burthens, and have not the same share of govern- 
ment emoluments, as M. Leon Faucher affirmed more than 
twenty years after the Emancipation Bill ?* Are they justified 
in complaining, as the same author assures us, that, forced into 
a union with England, they were not admitted to that union 

* Eludes sur V Angleterre, vol. ii. p. 193. 



on terms of perfect equality. Are these empty and unjust 
reproaches, or are they, on the contrary, well-grounded accu- 
sations, and are we to admit, however much to the dis- 
satisfaction of the apologists of English policy, that that policy 
is not yet free from the prejudices of blood and creed, and 
that it does not handle the Catholic Celt of Connacht according 
to the same rules as it does the Protestant Saxon of Middlesex 
or Yorkshire ? 

In order to answer these questions, we shall have to return 
to the Emancipation Bill, and see exactly how far that measure 
put an end to the revolting disparity existing between Catholics 
and Protestants for three centuries. 

The intentions of the statesmen whose names figure on 
this memorable bill, will throw great light on the spirit in 
which that law is now executed.* 

It is beyond doubt that this concession was not made because 
of its justice, but simply, as the Duke of Wellington formally 
declared, " to avert civil war." It would have been a pleasing 
task to attribute the honour of this measure to the equity 
and chivalrous moral sense of that Sir Robert Peel, of whom 
the English are so justly proud; but it is a glory which 
the impartiality of history cannot decree him ; and the recent 
publication of the memoirs of that great man put us in 
possession of some curious revelations on this subject.f The 
Protestant bishop of Limerick, Dr. J ebb, remonstrated with 
him on the danger of making concessions to Catholics. What 
was the answer of Sir Robert Peel? That the time had 
come to bid adieu to the prejudices of another age? that it 
was impossible any longer to perpetuate the ignominy of a rule 
which made seven millions of English subjects outcasts from 
political and civil society? that it was unjust to cling to the 
oppressive intolerance of a penal code, which orange passions 
imposed upon the eighteenth century? By no means; and we 
must admit that this time logic and close reasoning were on 
the side of the old bishop, and of his inflexible intolerance. 
"No concessions to Catholics I" he exclaims; "better an irre- 
concileable war." " Infinitely more difficulties and dangers will 
attach to concession than to uncompromising resistance .... 

* During the session of 1861, Lord Palmerston — nowise considered a zealot 
— was able to declare in the British Parliament, without exciting any very- 
great outcry, that the functions of keeper of records were incompatible with 
the profession of the Catholic religion. (Reply of Lord Palmerston to Lord 
Normanby in the Turnbull Case, quoted by Count Montalembert in his 
Second Letter to Count Cavour, pp. 16, 17.) 

t Memoirs of the Right Hon. Sir Robert Peel, Bart., M.P., published by the 
trustees of his papers, Lord Mahon, now Earl Stanhope, and the Right 
Hon. Edward Cardwell, M.P. London : John Murray, 1856. 


In defence of all that is dear to British Protestants, I am 
cheerfully prepared, if necessary, as others of my order have 
formerly done, to lay down life itself."* " Doubtless," replied 
Sir Robert Peel, " it is easy to blame the concessions that were 
then made (in 1782 and 1793); but they were not made with- 
out an intimate conviction of their absolute necessity, in order 
to prevent greater dangers ..." "I can with truth affirm, 
that in advising and promoting the measures of 1829, I was 
swayed by no fear, except the fear of public calamity."! 

Notwithstanding this political necessity, which the Duke of 
Wellington formally recognised, together with Sir Robert 
Peel, George IV. yielded only at the last extremity, and 
because he had been unable to form a ministry courageous 
enough to maintain Protestant supremacy in presence of exist- 
ing difficulties.^ 

It is even said, that in the excess of his grief and indig- 
nation, George was about to crush his pen before signing the 
act of the 13th April. 

Nothing is, then, more certain, than that neither the king 
nor his ministers looked upon what they were doing as an act 
of justice and of reparation in favour of Catholics : the bill 
of 1829, was simply a concession extorted by the force of 
circumstances, which the king would never have signed had 
he found ministers of sufficient determination to maintain an 
iniquity of three centuries even at the risk of a civil war, and 
which the ministers would never have proposed had not that 
very civil war threatened the existence of the Establishment 

Now, when a concession is extorted by force, and is not a 
spontaneous homage to truth and justice, those to whom its 
working is confided may respect the letter, but they will 
never honestly enter into its spirit. To see them at their 
work, it would seem as though they would keep back with 
one hand what they grant with the other; and that imme- 
diately the afflicting necessity, to which they have been obliged 
to bend, becomes less urgent, they only keep as much of their 
word as will screen them from the charge of perjury. Hence, 
the little thanks returned for such concessions ; indeed, we see 
no very grave obligation to gratitude that can bind the man 

* Letter of the Bp. of Limerick to Sir R. Peel ; 11th Feb., 1829. 
t Letter of Sir R. Peel to the Bp. of Limerick ; Feb. , 1829. {Memoirs, &c.) 
J At a late hour on the evening of the 4th of March, the king wrote a letter 
to the Duke of Wellington, informing him that his Majesty anticipated so 
much difficulty in the attempt to form another administration, that he could 
not dispense with our services ; that he must, therefore, desire us to withdraw 
our resignation ; and that we were at liberty to proceed with the measures of 
which notice had been given in parliament. {Memoirs, &c. ) 


who owes the little justice and liberty he enjoys to the influ- 
ence of fear alone. 

If we consider, therefore, the avowed motives which deter- 
mined the passing of the bill of 1829, we see that it was 
simply a political shift, and not an application of that principle 
of civil equality, which modern ideas have consecrated, and 
made part of their moral code. 

Hence, it has left after it, in respect to Catholics, an excep- 
tional regime, which, although less exclusive, less absolute 
and insulting than in past times, is not, on that account, 
less contrary to the principle of universal equality in the eyes 
of the law. Vanquished by the pressure of events, Protestant 
intolerance has only consented to make rigorously-necessary 
concessions ; and even in its defeat, it has managed to uphold 
the principle of its superiority. It yielded on the matter of 
fact, but never admitted the claim as a right ; and even to-day 
it is struggling against the growing spirit of liberty and justice 
for that preeminence to which, during three centuries of exclu- 
sive domination, it uncompromisingly clung. These observa- 
tions are but too fully borne out by the present position of 
Catholic Ireland. 




Let us first of all state, that public offices are not so open to 
all citizens of the United Kingdom without distinction of 
creed but that the principle of exclusion in regard to Catholics 
is expressly reserved, in the act of 1829, in the case of the 
three highest offices in the State ; namely, those of the Lord 
Lieutenant, the Chancellor, and the Vice-Chancellor. 

We must certainly do Sir Robert Peel the justice to state 
that from the beginning of the Catholic agitation he brought to 
bear on this question, so formidable to the British Government, 
those rigorously-logical principles from ,which he thought it 
necessary to deviate in 1829, It is true that at that time 
Catholics did not inspire serious apprehensions, and that states- 
men did not appreciate the necessity of shifts and concessions. 
This time Sir Robert Peel energetically condemned the idea of 
compromise and half measures; and one peruses the speech 
which he pronounced on this point, in the House of Commons, 
on the 9th of May, 1817, with very great interest. 


The gist of the proposition which he developed is this : — 
Are Catholics justified in claiming civil and political equality 
on the same grounds as their Protestant fellow-citizens? If 
the answer be in the affirmative, this equality must be full and 
absolute; if in the negative, the present state of things must 
be maintained ; but nothing can be more illogical than to make 
certain concessions and refuse others, nothing more impolitic ; 
for the inequality which would exist, no longer grounded on a 
principle, might evidently be stigmatized as arbitrary, or as 
arising from dishonesty or an insulting partiality. 

" Do you mean," said this great speaker, " to give them that 
fair proportion of political power to which their numbers, 
wealth, talents, and education will entitle them? If you do, 
can you believe that they will or can remain contented within 
the limits which you assign to them? . . . Do you think 
that they will view with satisfaction the state of your church 
or of their own? . . , The exclusion will be ten times 
more mortifying than their present disqualification. It will be 
so, because it will be attributed to caprice, to unjust prefer- 
ence, to unfair suspicion. . . . 

" But you yourselves retain some of these links, fewer 
indeed in number, but just as offensive, as a memento of 
degradation and as a proof that the equality of privilege and 
the identity of interests are not established. And when you 
dwell, and with justice, upon the rank, and the station, and 
the character of Lord Fingal,* let me ask you how, consistently 
with your principle, can you close against him for ever the 
first executive office of his native land, the only one perhaps 
to which he could aspire? He may represent his sovereign in 
Jamaica or in Canada ; he may exercise in distant colonies all 
the functions of sovereignty in church and state ; but in Ireland 
he cannot represent him; in Ireland the source from which 
grace, and mercy, and favour flow is still to continue Protestant, 
exclusivelv and for ever." t 

It is forty- four years since that speech was made, and it 
stands to-day, the unanswerable protest of logic and principle 
against the restrictions maintained in the Bill of 1829, in the 
case of Catholics, — a protest all the stronger, inasmuch as it 
came from the mouth of an adversary; one, however, who was 
consistent, and feared not to speak out his conclusion : that in 
the matter of justice and equality either everything or nothing 
must be wanted ; that things must be left untouched if meddling 

* One of the most respected members of the Irish Catholic Aristocracy 
The family still exists. 

+ House of Commons, May 9, 1817. Hansard's Parliamentary Debates. 


with them involve danger to the British constitution ; but that 
if no danger be involved, concession must be full, since it is 
a right. 

Logic and right await, however, in Ireland an hour which 
has not yet struck. 

Sir Robert Feel asked in virtue of what principle the head 
of one of the oldest and most illustrious Catholic families in 
Ireland should be excluded from the only office to which his 
birth and merit would allow him to aspire. What progress 
has been made on this point ? Doubtless an influential Catholic 
nobleman, an Irishman, to-day holds one of the highest places 
in the queen's household. Lord Castleross is vice-chamberlain 
at St, James' Palace. But so long as Lord Castleross remains a 
Catholic, so long will he be excluded from the lord lieutenancy 
of Ireland, filled to-day by Lord Carlisle, who in his turn would 
be constitutionally displaced the day he leaves the Anglican to 
enter into the Roman Catholic Church. 

It is, moreover, important to remark, with Sir Robert Peel, 
that this exclusion, so prejudicial and wounding to Catholics, 
is in force in Ireland, and in Ireland alone, doubtless because 
the Irish people are almost totally Catholic ; so that, we may say 
that civil and political equality, established as far as the question 
of right goes between Catholic and Protestant in England, 
Scotland, and the colonies, is in Ireland neither recognised as 
a right, nor existing as a fact, and that she is lying under a 
sort of interdict which is perpetuating up to the last quarter 
of the nineteenth the old Protestant intolerance of the sixteenth 
century ! 

Perhaps it will be said that the exceptions in the matter of 
absolute equality before the law are so few that they are not 
worth mentioning. 

But who is not aware that the office of the Lord Chancellor 
is such, that it is his duty to decide, without appeal, many 
state questions, in the solution of which it is difficult to suppose 
that no religious prejudices will intervene ;* which fact estab- 
lishes in favour of Protestants as manifest a privilege as it 
establishes a manifest inequality on the side of Catholics. 

Besides, were the only function to which this exclusion 
applied, that of lord lieutenant, who could mistake the con- 
sequences of such an exception. Sir Robert Peel did not, — 
when he said of it that "the source from which grace, mercy, 

* When, for instance, an orphan is a minor, and his parents have not specified 
in what religion they wish him to be brought up, it is the Lord Chancellor who, 
by a decision, makes either a Catholic or a Protestant of him. It is the Lord 
Chancellor, too, who grants and withdraws at will the commissions of justices 
of the peace, and by that fact alone, he holds in his hands the entire adminis- 
tration of justice. 


and favour flow, is still to continue Protestant exclusively arid 
for ever." 

And let it not be said that this is, after all, but a question of 
one single functionary. It is the question of a functionary on 
whom nearly all the others depend, by reason of the nature and 
extent of his powers ; so that all share in political influence, 
comes, as far as principle is concerned, from an authority which 
constitutionally cannot be other than Protestant. 

The lord lieutenant has, in fact, the right of appointing to 
all those public employments which in England are in the gift 
of the Queen. He has, too, the supreme right of pardon, of 
commuting punishment, and of suspending the ordinary course 
of the law, — circumstances of gravity of which he is the judge, 
he being accountable to Parliament alone.* 

Who will, for a moment, consent to believe that in the ex- 
ercise of this almost sovereign power the Protestant viceroy 
will always continue so rigidly impartial, will always act with 
such strict and nice integrity, that merit and good services 
will, without distinction of religious belief, be in his eyes the 
only titles to favour. 

We have reason, however, to point out a considerable 
difference between Tories and Whigs in this matter. 

The former, who are also called Conservatives, are so in this 
sense, that upon principle, and in spite of the Emancipation Bill, 
they exclude Catholics generally from all share in government 
offices, and as far as possible maintain the Protestant ascendancy .f 

The Whigs, more liberal in their way, and inclined to make 
concessions not only from necessity but from a regard for 
justice, do not systematically exclude Catholics from the public 
offices, and make it a point of honour to give them a share of 
the favours at their disposal. 

We do not pretend to touch upon the very delicate question 
of whether this line of conduct is always disinterested, either 
on the side of the giver and receiver ; nor whether the intolerant 
stiffness of the Tories would not be more advantageous to Ire- 
land, thereby confirmed and united in the strength of Catholic 
and national feeling, than the skilful advances of the Whigs : 
what we have to do is to recognize the fact that the latter 
understand better, and carry out more equitably, the principle 
consecrated, though imperfectly, by the Emancipation Bill.J 

* Gust, de Beaumont, i. p. 254. (Sixth edition, in 12mo.) 

t " The Protestants of Ireland are not contented with ecclesiastical, they 
insist also on civil ascendancy. They consider every Catholic appointment to 
every office as an encroachment on their rights." (Rambler, May, 1861.) 

* An illustrious Englishman observed to us lately, whilst talking of the 
political parties in England : — "The Tories are unmitigated, the Whigs miti- 
gated selfishness." 


However, and although for fifteen years the Whigs have been 
in power, for a much longer time (eleven years at least they 
have not totally cast aside sectarian prejudice; and, to borrow 
the very apt comparison of Sir Robert Peel, we are not to won- 
der that the source of grace and favour being exclusively 
Protestant, the tide should run, as it were naturally, in a Pro- 
testant direction. 

Let us take note, that this source is not only Protestant, it is 
English; and that thus Ireland habitually enjoys the privi- 
lege of being governed by men who are not only strangers to 
her soil, but hostile to her religion. 

Official statistics place this fact beyond doubt or discussion ; 
answering the groundless assertions of English publicists, and 
their disciples in France, by the irrefutable argument of names 
and figures. 

Out of the seventeen viceroys, who have governed Ire- 
land during the first half of this century, we find only one 
Irishman. It is unnecessary to add that all were Protes- 

Out of twenty-two chief secretaries, four were Irish, 
eighteen English. All were Protestants. And although this 
office was not made specially exclusive by the bill of 1829, 
yet one easily understands why this has been and will con- 
tinue to be the case, so Jong as the viceroyalty is not open to 
Catholics. The chief secretary is, by the very nature of his 
position, in the closest connexion with the lord lieutenant, 
to whom he is second in place ; and the fact of giving a Catho- 
lic chief secretary to a Protestant viceroy would be nothing 
else than placing in the upper ranks of the Irish administra- 
tion a cause of perpetual conflict. The same reasons, 
although less imperative, influence the choice of under-secre- 
taries. Out of ten, four have been Irishmen — only one a 
Catholic. For the last seven years this post has been filled 
by an English Protestant.* 

The Irish viceroy has, like the queen of England, 
a privy council. In this council are chosen the lords jus- 
tices, who, in the absence of the lord lieutenant, are invested 
with all his prerogatives. The privy council consists of sixty 
members, of whom, indeed, forty-five are Irishmen, but nine 
only Catholics. Of these nine Catholic councillors six are 
judges, besides the attorney-general, and these are not con- 
sulted except on matters of technical legal import. 

As a matter of fact, when any business has to be done, the 
privy council usually consists of the Protestant archbishop 

* Major- General Larcom. 



of Dublin, an Englishman; of the lord chancellor, always a 
Protestant; of the commander-in-chief of the forces, a Pro- 
testant and an Englishman ; and of one or two other members, 
who are occasionally invited to the sittings.* 

In other parts of the administration, less closely connected 
with politics, Whig liberalism has given a larger share to 
Catholics ; but this share is still far from being proportioned 
to their numbers. In these other branches of the administra- 
tion, too, a difference, less marked than in the others, but still 
a profound difference, is evident between equality in right and 
equality in fact. 

Of twenty-one attorneys-general appointed since 1829, 
eight have been Catholics; of twenty-six solicitors-general, 
nine have been Catholics, the other seventeen Protestants. 
Proportionate equality is only beginning to show itself in the 
four courts of justice; since seven out of twelve of the judges 
are Catholics. 

The rule, general almost without an exception, is, that the 
principal offices of each class are filled by Protestants, often 

* We answer for the exactness of these facts as well as to those which follow. 
The better to appreciate all this, we must bear in mind that, according to the 
last official census, made in 186i, the Catholics in Ireland are 3 x times as 
numerous as the Protestants of the Established Church (4,490,583 to 678,661). 
Would it be too much to ask the Whig Government not to contide such 
high functions, in such a Catholic country, to men notoriously bigoted against 
all that is dear to and respected by Catholic consciences ? Since these 
lines were penned Mr. Edward Cardwell has been promoted to a more impor- 
tant post in the Palmerston administration. Who has been chosen to replace 
him ? Doubtless one would imagine that no name would be more welcome to 
Ireland than that of Sir Robert Peel's son. It is not, however, very 
encouraging - for a Catholic country to see her political and religious interests 
coufided to a man who has never spoken in any but terms of the most open 
contempt of the Sovereign Pontiff, and of the principal institutions of Catho- 
licism, and it is certain that the insolent and provoking tone in which these 
sentiments are expressed better becomes Exeter Hall meetings than such an 
illustrious assembly as the British parliament. Apropos of the Reforma- 
tion which the honorable baronet supposes to be making great way in Italy, 
he uses such language as this : — " This accounts for the zeal of the Church of 
Rome to stop the march of the Italian Revolution, which it perceives is every 
day sapping the foundations of priestcraft and priestly intolerance." ' ' I may be 
permitted, Sir, to express my hope that, as the system of progress which 
checks superstition and religious intolerance continues to take still deeper root 
in the minds and affections of the people, so it will contribute to the promotion 
of that material development and the future happiness of Italy." — " The pre- 
sent movement for the regeneration of Italy is also a religious movement. 
The political and religious impulses are acting together. Dull ignorance and 
the mummeries of superstition are giving way before the broad features of 
religious toleration. What recent decrees have most excited the admiration 
and gratitude of the people of Italy ? The decrees that have broken up the 
monastic institutions and nunneries. These institutions are unserviceable to 
civil society, andean only exist upon its destruction, or upon the want of it." — 
Hansard's Parliamentary Debates, vol. cxli., pp. 1560, 1561. 



by Englishmen; whilst the subordinate posts only are open to 
Irish Catholics* We may be allowed to justify these asser- 
tions by a hasty review of the different classes of functionaries 
in Ireland. 

The collector of inland revenue is an Englishman and a 
Protestant ; all the chief officers are Protestants. 

The general superintendent of the income tax department is 
an Englishman and a Protestant. 

The controller-general of stamps is an Englishman and a 

Nearly all the leading officers of the coast-guards are Eng- 
lishmen and Protestants. 

The paymaster of the civil services is an Englishman and a 

The inspector of factories, a department conducted from 
London, keeps two sub-inspectors in Ireland, both Protestants. 

The four government emigration directors are Protestants.f 

The loan fund board consists of thirty-eight commis- 
sioners, twenty-eight of whom are Protestants. 

The commission of charitable bequests consists of thirteen 
members, seven of whom are Protestants. 

The superintendent of agricultural and emigration statistics 
is a Protestant. 

The commander of the forces, and nearly all his staff, are 
English and Protestant. Very nearly the same may be said of 
the royal engineers' department, of the officers of recruiting 
districts, of barrack masters, royal hospitals, prisons and the 
military school. Seldom in these departments does the name 
of an Irishman appear in any leading position — hardly ever 
that of a Catholic. This inequality is all the more scandalous, 
inasmuch as the greater part of the English army is re- 
cruited in Ireland, and as Catholic soldiers are very numerous 
in it$ 

The administration of public works is confided to three 
commissioners, all Protestants; one an Englishman, one a 
Welshman, one an Irishman. The secretary, architects, and 
comptrollers are Englishmen and Protestants. 

* "The policy of the English people, in the government of the United King- 
dom and in the expenditure of a large annual revenue, has been always able, 
national, and selfish . . . But is it not true that Irishmen as a general rule, are 
excluded from the cabinet, from the lord lieutenancy, from the governorships of 
India and of Canada, and from other high offices of influence ?" — {Pastoral Letter 
of Dr. Keane, Bishop o/Cloyne, 7th Feb., 1861.) 

■f It is needless to add that the greater part of the emigrants are Irish 

X Since the inauguration of the examination system for commissions, many 
young Irishmen have passed brilliant examinations, a manifest proof that it is 
not incapacity which keeps the Irish out of public functions. 




The geological survey is directed by an Englishman, and 
with a trifling exception the whole corps is Protestant.* 

In the police force, the inequality is still more manifest, and 
the partiality of the Anglo-Protestant system is seen to greater 

In 1814, upon the motion of Sir Robert Peel, at that time 
chief secretary, the act was passed which provided the first 
regular police force for Ireland; called, soon afterwards, in 
recognition of the founder, " Peelers." 

From its foundation its four chief officers, inspector-general, 
deputy-inspector, and assistants, have always been Protestants, 
frequently Englishmen or Scotchmen. Last year, however, 
(1859) a third assistant inspector-general, a Catholic, was ap- 

These five officers have command of 12,501 men, scattered 
over the whole country ; each of them is, ex-officio, a magistrate 
for every county, city, and town in Ireland ; and the corps of 
seventy-two stipendiary magistrates is largely controlled by 
them. They have exclusive power of promotion' in this small 
army. It is interesting to see (from the official Report pre- 
sented to Parliament, in July, 1860, by Sir Henry Brown- 
rigg, inspector-general, and commander-in-chief of the Police 
Force) the proportions in which the distribution of the supe- 
rior ranks, therefore the best paid, has been made between the 
Catholics and Protestants. The following statistical table is 
extracted from the Report: — 





Protestants Catholics. 


Deputy Inspectors- General, . 
Assistant Inspectors- General, 
County Inspectors, 
Sub-Inspectors, . 
Head Constables, 



Acting Constables, 
Sub- Constables, . 







































Since the time when the force was remodelled, (during Lord 

* Nation of September 29, and October 6th, 1860. For details see Thorn's 
Official Almanac, 1860, 1861, passim. 




Normanby's administration in 1836), out of a force numbering 
8,508 Catholics only three have been able to reach the position 
of county inspector, whilst amongst 3,993 Protestants thirty- 
six have reached that or a still higher grade. 

Among the sub-inspectors we find more than three Pro- 
testants to one Catholic ; among the chief -cons tables the 
Protestants are eleven to six. 

In the lower grades an inequality of quite a different nature 
presents itself ; and when we come to the simple policemen we 
see that the Catholics are three to one. 

The central administration of the Poor Law Board shows, 
more clearly than even the constabulary, a strange f orgetf ulness 
of the rights of Catholics, and of deference to public opinion. 
We shall show, later on, that wealth and poverty divide Ireland 
into two clearly-defined classes. There are very few Protestants 
who are not rich, or at least in easy circumstances ; whilst the 
large majority of Catholics are in a state of misery, rather 
than of ordinary poverty. 

The mass of the poor relieved by the workhouses are Catholic 
and Irish. Let us give a glance at those by whom the higher 
posts of the administration are filled, those who have daily to 
decide the interests, both temporal and spiritual, of these poor. 

Five commissioners, three of them salaried, are at the head of 
the administration. All five are Protestants, and four are English. 

The inspectors are 1 3 in number, 9 of whom are Protestants. 

There are four auditors, thirty-six clerks, — divided into four 
classes — and one solicitor. 

Of the auditors one only is Catholic. The seven first-class clerks 
are all Protestants, and among them are four Englishmen and one 
Scotchman, Of the ten second-class clerks five are Protestants. 

So far we see that it is not Catholics who are privileged : but, 
as in the constabulary, so here they fill up the lower ranks. 
Thus among the ten third-class clerks seven, and among the ten 
fourth-class eight are Catholics. The solicitor is a Protestant* 




















f Chief, 






1st class, 


* • • 



M < 

2nd ,, 






3rd ,, . . 






4th ,, 















Thorn's Official Directory, 1861, p. 791. 



It is easy to see from this table to whom the lion's share 

Out of the thirty-nine highest posts in this administration, 
twenty-nine are occupied by Protestants, twenty-seven* of 
whom have salaries, the total of which amounts to £18,516, 
which gives an average of £638 each. The ten others are 
occupied by Catholics, receiving a total salary of £3,450, 
which gives an average of £319 : half the average of that 
given to Protestants. 

In the lower grades, on the contrary, the Catholics are three 
to one, with an average salary of £123. 

Are not Irishmen, however, wrong in complaining of this 
unequal division of public functions in Ireland, between 
Protestants and Catholics? From the fact of the Union being 
established between Ireland and England, and of the Act of 
1829 having done away with the political disabilities under 
which the Catholics of the United Kingdom laboured, are we 
not to presume that if there be numbers of English Protestant 
functionaries in Ireland, by way of compensation numbers of 
Irishmen are promoted to the most important posts in the 
magistracy, in the treasury, and in the civil service in England, 
Scotland, and in the Colonies? And if so, ought we not to 
hail joyfully a reciprocity calculated to unite still more closely 
the two nations, and to justify the title of sisters which they 
bear in official language ? 

Doubless, this might be so, although to believe Irishmen 
they would certainly prefer renouncing their right to func- 
tions in England on condition of being judged, governed, 
and having their affairs managed, by their countrymen and 
co-religionists at home. This equilibrium does not, however, 
exist; and we can boldly affirm, that for twenty English 
Protestants holding the highest and most lucrative posts in Ire' 
land, scarcely a single Irishman can be found enjoying the 
same privileges in England.t 

This partiality, — this spirit of exclusion, — this dogged up- 
holding of inequality arising from difference of creed, — in a 
word, the whole of this narrow-minded system of government 
is still standing ; its root is deep in the heart of the British 
Constitution, and it is shielded by the staunchest prejudices 
from the legitimate progress of our age. 

* For two of the Commissioners (the Chief Secretary and the Under Secre- 
tary), are ex officio members of the Poor Law Board, and, accordingly, are not 

t " . . . Almost all the chief officers in Ireland are Englishmen, but he 
should not object to that, if there existed anything like reciprocity ... It 
was really something of a national grievance." — Mr. Scullv, House of Commons, 
Aug. 10, 1860. 


Between Protestants equality exists, it is true ; but between 
Protestants and Catholics, Englishmen and Irishmen, we 
repeat it, it does not exist ; it is not yet completely sanctioned 
by the Constitution, and, above all, it is far from being 
received in theory and put in practice, by the English people. 

The Irish Catholic has, doubtless, ceased to be looked upon, 
— at least by the Christian and enlightened portion of the 
English community, — as the wild idolater and enemy, who, as 
late as the eighteenth century, was unscrupulously and piti- 
lessly crushed ; but if he is now recognised as a brother, he is 
not yet completely recognised. as a fellow-citizen. There is a 
barrier separating these two classes, which the rugged and 
sectarian spirit of the Reformation still jealously maintains.* 

This is a fact which many soi-disant liberals will not see, in 
spite of abundant proof, and of facts of every-day occurrence; 
whether it be that they consider that to deny justice, when 
Catholicity is in question, is, after all, not so grave a matter, 
or that it is important for the interests of liberty in Europe, 
that England, not only as far as her institutions, but also as far 
as her policy is concerned, should enjoy a kind of prestige, 
and be surrounded by a halo, on which it would be sacrilege to 
lay one's hand. Is not this superstitious respect an outrage upon 
liberty, and a humiliating insult to England ? Would not the 
cause both of liberty and England be better served by expos- 
ing, unsparingly as well as impartially, the abuses which are 
supposed to be justified by their authority? Have we not a 
right to be severe upon England, precisely because her institu- 
tions are admirable, enviable even by us; because she is 
"that proud and free nation, that favoured, powerful, skilful, 
and Christian nation, foremost in all kinds of greatness, whose 
genius is the glory of the human race ?"| Of what advantage 
is liberty to her, unless it be an instrument of justice, and of 
progress ? When, again, a people is powerful for good, is it not 
accountable for all the good which it might do, and which it 
miserably sacrifices to inveterate prejudice, blind hatred, and 
unjustifiable egotism? 

* See on this point an excellent article in the Rambler, May, 1861. 
+ Sermon of Mgr. Dupanloup, Bishop of Orleans, preached at Saint Koch, 
25th March, 1861, in favour of the suffering Irish — pp. 48, 59. 



In virtue of the Act of 1801, which united the two parlia- 
ments of Dublin and London, Ireland sends to the imperial 
parliament thiry-two peers, of whom four are ecclesiastics, 
and a hundred and five members. 

The twenty-eight lay-peers, elected from among, and by the 
peers of Ireland, enjoy their seat for life, and are replaced on 
their decease : the ecclesiastical lords enjoy their seats during 
one session only.* 

To how many objections is this system open, not, perhaps, in 
point of religious but of political equality ? Who could for 
a moment maintain that the Irish aristocracy enjoys the same 
privileges as that of England? Every English peer has, on 
attaining his majority, the right of sitting in the upper house, 
and of transmitting this right to his eldest son. The Irish 
peers, as well as those of Scotland, are nothing more than the 
delegates of the body which elects them. Apropos of this fact, 
M. Leon Faucher observes, " that in the upper house the 
peers of the two inferior kingdoms form a sort of lower one, 
and have nothing more than a borrowed power;" and, again, 
" that the English people, being the strongest, the best situated, 
and the best able to have their own way, has taken the 
lion's share, and treated the Irish like a conquered race."f 
Numerical disproportion is not the only fact which places 
the Irish peers in a position of marked inferiority to those of 
England. They are subject to other restrictions, which close 
against most of them the political career. The Irish peer upon 
whom the choice of his equals has not fallen, and who, conse- 
quently, has no seat in the house of lords, is in no way com- 
pensated ; he can neither sit upon a grand jury, vote in 
elections, nor stand in Ireland for a seat in the house of 

* The Irish nobility reckons at the present day one hundred and eighty 
members, of whom one is of the blood royal, viz., the King of Hanover, Earl 
of Armagh; one Duke, forty -two Marquises, sixty-seven Earls, forty-two 
Viscounts, and seventy-two Barons. — Thorn's Official Directory, 1861, p. 756. 

t Leon Faucher, Etudes sur T Angleterre, I., 194. 

X Speech of Mr. Smith O'Brien, House of Commons, 4th of July, 1843. — 
Hansard's Parliamentary Debates. 


[book r. 

One thing only can be said in justification of so marked an 
inequality between the peerages of England and Ireland ; and 
that is, that the latter consented to it at the time of the Union 
and that their children have to thank the venality and corrup- 
tion of their fathers, which have shorn the Irish nobility of the 
greatest part of its political influence. 

The hundred and five members sent by Ireland into the 
British Parliament form one-sixth of the total number repre- 
senting the United Kingdom. 

By the electoral law at present in force, occupiers of any 
tenements rated in the last annual poor-rate at a net annual 
value of £12 and upwards are entitled to vote in elections for 
counties ; also owners of certain estates of the rated net annual 
value of £5. In boroughs, occupiers rated in the last poor- 
rate at £8 and upwards are entitled to vote, subject to certain 
limitations.* Up to theyear 1829, county members were elected 
as in England, by all freeholders having an income of forty 
shillings. This right to vote upon a freehold of forty shillings 
was done away with at the time of the Emancipation Bill ;f 
and up to the Reform of 1850 the right of voting became a 
sort of privilege, to which the great mass of the agricultural 
population were strangers. The number of registered voters 
on the 1st of February, 1848, was 108,139 ; on the 1st of 
January, 1849, it had fallen to 72,216 ; and in 1850, it amounted 
only to 35,000. The election reform of 1850 increased these 
narrow proportions, so that the actual number of voters in 
Ireland is 191,0454 

There are considerable differences, proved by statistics, 
between England and Ireland, in the proportion of inhabitants, 
of voters, and of members. These figures are derived exclu- 
sively from official documents. 

In I860, out of a supposed population of 19,745,000,§ 
England numbered 942,258 voters, and 496 members, || from 
which fact we gather the following proportions : — 
One voter to every 21 inhabitants. 
One member to every 1,899 voters. 
One member to every 39,973 inhabitants. 

* 13 and 14 Vict. cap. lxix. sees. 2 and 5. (Thorn's Offic. Direct., 1861, p. 

+ This, the primary of all political rights, was taken away from that mass of 
Catholic husbandmen whom the authorities pretended to emancipate. 

X See a speech of Lord John Russell, during the session of 1850, when he 
brought in the Election Reform Bill ; and Thorn's Official Directory for 1861, 
p. 87. 

§ Thorn's Offic. Direct, 1861, p. 83, First Table. According to the Census 
of 1861, just published, the number of the population of England and Wales, 
is 20,061,725. 

|| Idib. p. 87, second table. 


In the same year, Ireland, out of a supposed population* of 
5,988,820, numbered 191,045 voters, and 105 members-! This 
gives us : — 

One voter to every 31 inhabitants. 

One member to every 1,819 electors. 

One member to every 57,036 inhabitants. 

The disproportion between the population and the number of 
members would be far greater were it not for the immense drain 
upon the population by emigration and famine. In fact, 
the number of members sent to parliament never having varied 
since the Union, when the population of Ireland amounted to 
8,175,124 (in 1841), the proportion of members to the popula- 
tion was one to every 57,036. And if Ireland had not, since 
that time, lost about 3,072,000 inhabitants.^ its population at 
the present day would, at least, amount to 10,000,000, and 
the number of members remaining the same, would give us 
one member to every 96,190 inhabitants. 

Be this as it may, laying aside all hypothesis, actual figures 
are the unanswerable refutation of the opinion that equality 
in this matter exists between England and Ireland, since the 
former sends one member for every 39,973 inhabitants, whilst 
the latter sends one for every 57,036, — the former thus enjoy- 
ing two-fifths more electoral power than the latter. 

To recapitulate, Ireland sends to the imperial parliament 
slightly less than a sixth of the total members, whilst " pro- 
portionate equality" would give her the right of having 
420,000 electors, and 256 members. " Bat, then, we must 
remember," says the illustrious publicist, " that England would, 
in that case, speedily lose the supremacy which, from time 
immemorial, she has exercised over the two other kingdoms. ''§ 

Hence the conviction, so energetically expressed in some of 
the great meetings held in Ireland, England, Scotland, and 
America, in 1860, for the Repeal of the Union, that the Irish 
members can do nothing in the British Parliament, — that the 
conflicting interests of the two countries put Ireland for ever 
at the mercy of a majority, which invariably follows English 
ideas and instincts, — and that every Irish member who con- 

* Thorn's Official Directory, p. 697, Table VII. The Census of ] 861 puts 
it at a still lower figure, 5, 764, 543. 

t See a speech of Lord John Russell, during the session of 1850, when he 
brought in the Election Reform Bill; and Thorn's Official Directory for 1801, 
p. 87, second table. 

% ' ' Even after making allowance for the excess of births over deaths, thu 
total loss of population since 1841 may be estimated at 3,072,000" (p 597). 
We repeat that Thorn's Directory possesses the authority of an official docu- 

§ Leon Faucher, Etudes sur V Angleterre, II., 195. 



scientiously supports in the house of commons the rights of 
his fellow-citizens, is treated with studied indifference and 

This is testimony which one would gladly reject, on the 
ground of partiality, were it not confirmed by a paper which 
is in Ireland the faithful, not to say servile, echo of English 
and Protestant antipathies and rancour. It is with good 
reason, says the Irish Times'^ of July, 1860, that the Irish 
representatives complain of the way in which Irish business is 
managed in the House of Commons, It may be said that all 
the measures affecting Ireland are made up into a single 
bundle ; that they are kept back till near the end of the session ; 
and that they are then introduced to the house, — when the 
sitting ought to be over — about half-past two o'clock in the 
morning. The house begins to thin about midnight, unless 
when some English business of importance is for consideration. 
But there are always fifty or sixty votes whom the cabinet 
can command at any hour; and, counting upon them, the 
ministers only bring in the Irish measures — how important 
soever they may be — at two or three o'clock in the morning ; 
that is to say, when most of the Irish representatives have 
gone home, and the few who remain can be easily disposed of 
by the overwhelming majority of the ministerial members X 

We have to examine another question bearing upon this 
comparison between the parliamentary liberties of Ireland and 
those of England, and a very delicate one it is. It is, whether 
the social and religious condition of these two countries does 
not exercise considerable influence in each of them upon the 

* Speeches of the O'Donoghue, M.P., and of Mr. O'Neill Daunt, at the 
Dublin meeting, 4th December, 1860. We give a fragment of a letter, addressed 
by the former to the chairman of a meeting, held at Glasgow, on the 9th of 
the preceding September : — " When an Irish member rises to give expression 
to the sentiments of patriotism which animate the great mass of our country- 
men, he is received with disapprobation ; . . we are mere delegates ; we are 
permitted to state the wants and wishes of our constituents — but whether those 
wants are to be attended to, or those wishes complied with, depends upon the 
favour of a number of Englishmen, who look at every question from an 
English point of view." 

*h A few days afterwards, the same observation was made in nearly identical 
terms, in the house of commons, by the member for the Co. Cork, Mr. V. Scully. 
He said, "that the Irish business was in a most unsatisfactory position, . . 
that the government conducted the Irish business by a sort of Bureaucracy; 
and that Irish members had no influence at all out of the house." — House of 
Commons, August \0th, 1860. 

{ It was by such means as these that, at the end of the session of 1860, a 
bill, declared by the most impartial and moderate members of the House, to 
be inopportune or insulting to Ireland, passed at the end of a long night' s- 
debate, when there were but few Irish members to withstand Lord Palmerston, 
who had determined to carry the measure before the House rose. We shall 
come to this bill later on. — The Peace Preservation Act, 


right of election ; and whether we are not obliged to take it 
into account, in order to understand exactly in what consists 
the electoral privilege of the Irish peasant. 

In England electors and candidate belong to the same reli- 
gion and race. Independently of this fact, there exist in that 
country noble and strong traditions, which render morally im- 
possible the vengeance which a landlord might be disposed to 
wreak upon tenants who voted either contrary to his wish, if 
he were not a candidate, or against him, if he stood for a seat. 
Doubtless, the tenants of a whig landlord might deem it 
more advisable for their interest not to vote for a neigh- 
bouring tory ; they might, however, do it without exposing 
themselves to certain peril, and without gravely compro- 
mising their own future prospects and those of their fami- 
lies. We may, therefore, say that there is in England liberty 
for the voter. 

The same is far from being the case in Ireland. 

Before the Emancipation Act, the right of voting could 
scarcely be said to have involved a case of conscience for 
Catholics. The poor farmer had, undoubtedly, to choose 
between whigs and tories; but as the choice did not lie 
between Catholics and Protestants, he could, without failing 
in an essential duty, listen to the voice of prudence rather than 
to his political preferences, and nothing obliged him to sacrifice 
the future of his family by an unfettered exercise of what 
was, in his mind, much less a political right than an integral 
part of his ordinary obligations as a tenant. 

The question has assumed a somewhat' more complicated 
aspect since 1829, There are cases, by no means rare, in 
which the most sacred of motives obliges a man to vote against 
his landlord. The constitution, certainly, secures him this 
right, but does not guarantee the unshackled use of it ; for in 
presence of the positive right of the tenant to vote for whom 
he thinks proper, stands a right no less certain, and one that is 
mercilessly used, namely, that of the landlord to evict, without 
pity, the elector who obeys his conscience; which means 
simply to bring upon him irreparable ruin. What becomes of 
the liberty of election in this conflict? Either it is sacrificed 
to urgent family considerations, and the too pardonable dread 
of the workhouse ; or it is nobly exercised, but at the price 
of the fearful vengeance to follow, — of which we have very 
recent examples. 

There is, to our own personal knowledge, an Irish county 
where, in 1857, the farmers were escorted to the polling-booth 
by the constabulary. The fact was acknowleged to us by an 
extensive landed proprietor of that county, himself a member 



of Parliament, whose political sympathies are generally in 
favor of the English government and the whigs. 

Two years afterwards, in 1859, the papers of the province 
of Connacht* published the sad list of names of tenants hunted 
off his estate after an election, by a landlord, who in so doino- 
had only availed himself of the legal measure of eviction, so 
much the fashion in Ireland. This rigour was the more 
scandalous, and raised the more outcry in the press, inasmuch 
as the landlord was himself a member of Parliament, and ought 
to have shown himself more zealous than others of a liberty 
without which he must have evidently known that his own 
commission as representative was worthless and null. 

The following are the details of an election which took place 
a few years ago in the county Galway, and which was hotly 
contested by a government candidate and one of the national 
party. We have the facts from an eye-witness. The peasants, 
holding their election cards, and headed by the agents and 
bailiffs, repaired in troops to the courthouse where the poll was 
held. A bailiff collected the cards, and each peasant stepped 
forward in his turn to give his vote. If now and again one 
farmer, more courageous than his fellows, was bold enough to 
pronounce the name of the national candidate, the crowd 
cheered immediately, and the stout-hearted citizen, whom 
neither the furious looks of police-inspectors nor the hard and 
threatening clank of their musket-butts on the pavement had 
intimidated, was carried off in triumph. 

An incident of this election contest betrays the tortures of 
conscience to which one of these unfortunate peasants was a 
prey. He could speak nothing but Irish, and the oath had to 
be repeated to him ten times before he could pronounce it 
properly. This man was evidently undergoing great mental 
suffering. He looked wildly around, as though he wanted 
to get away. He would have done anything to escape this 
fatal vote, for it was against his conscience, but upon it 
depended the life of his children; he was on the point of 
yielding, when a friend of the national candidate, a witness 
of his trouble and of the terrible struggle going on within him, 
objected to his vote. The other side dared not insist any 
farther, and his vote was set aside. Who knows what passed 
afterwards between him and those who had scared him into 
the vote ? And now, what sincere partisan of the British 
Constitution would wish to see the liberties and rights granted 
by it exercised in such a manner ?f 

* The Gonnaught Patriot, 22nd October, 1859, quoting the Sligo Champion. 
t See also, in the funeral oration of O'Connell, by Ventura, the sublime trait 
of that Bridget Pranty who, at the moment when her husband was about to 



We may thus sum up the parliamentary privileges of 
Ireland : Her peerage is degraded ; her share in parliamentary 
representation is neither proportioned to her population, nor 
based upon the same condition as that of England ; the posi- 
tion of the Irish members at Westminster is, for the most part, 
a mere secondary one,* and these striking disadvantages will be 
without remedy so long as liberty in election matters, the basis 
of the whole system, is incomplete, unprotected, and un- 
guaranteed ; or rather so long as it draws down upon the head 
of any man who looks upon voting as a serious duty, the ter- 
rible scourge of eviction, of which the Irish landlord is still 
the legal and irresponsible dispenser. 



The present Minister for Foreign Affairs, Earl Russell, pro- 
nounced a short time ago in parliament words which are akin 
to an axiom in political morality: The great object, said he,f 
ought to be the establishment of a government where every- 
thing bows before justice, where everything tends to make 
arbitrary rule impossible. 

A fine, a noble maxim, doubtless; and one which sounds 
well in the mouth of a statesman; but such words are formidable 
for those who utter them — because they are words which give 
us a right to demand a severe account from the government 
in whose name they are pronounced. 

Let us apply this maxim, then, not only to a certain Italian 
government — of which Earl Russell perhaps intended his words 
to be an emphatic condemnation— but to the English rule in 
Ireland ; and who will then dare to say that this government 
bows only before justice, and that everything is so ordered as 
to exclude arbitrary rule ? 

England and Ireland are, doubtless, both under the same 
institutions, the same customs, and the same administrative 
machinery, judicial and financial. What is more, there is 
not a single one of all the civil and political liberties, coveted 

sacrifice his duties as a father and his rights as a citizen, buoyed up his sinking 
courage with these simple and immortal words : — "Remember your soul and 

* "We are mere delegates." See speech of The O'Donoghue, and the 
extract from Mr. V. Scully's speech, quoted above, p. 18. 

t These words are quoted in an article in the Correspondent, Feb. 25th, 1860. 


to-day by many great continental nations, of which Ireland is 
not in full possession; trial by jury, for instance; the inde- 
pendence of judges; the responsibility of all functionaries 
before judicial authority ; the right of association and meeting; 
individual liberty; liberty of the press; liberty of education. 
These are certainly precious guarantees; and all the more 
valuable, inasmuch as they render possible the reform of 
every abuse, and the accomplishment of every improvement. 

We must add that, for the last thirty years, Ireland has 
largely availed herself of many of these liberties ; and that 
with a few lamentable exceptions, the use of her liberties has 
been generally respected by England, in whose eyes the 
exercise of these rights is indispensable to every free people. 

Thus the great Association for the Repeal of the Union ; 
the meetings held in 1859 and 1860, in favour of the Sovereign 
Pontiff ; the independence with which the daily press follows 
up and scourges the abuses of authority, criticises the acts of 
government, hands over to the severity of public opinion the 
greatest names in the United Kingdom ; the liberty enjoyed 
by the bishops in treating all questions, whether spiritual or 
temporal, without having to fear prosecution or the rigours of 
a superannuated legislation ; — all these are so many unequivocal 
signs of the existence in Ireland of an undoubted political 
liberty, and of one which, notwithstanding solemn promises, 
has not yet come to crown the edifice of our own newly- 
granted institutions in France. 

This is precisely what misleads those who do not go deeply 
into the matter. On the one hand, the maxims which resound 
in parliament, — on the other, the independent tone of the Irish 
press, — and the boldness, to us incredible, of the speeches made 
at popular meetings, — fascinate and dazzle us ; and seen in this 
favourable light, England really seems to be that privileged 
land in which, as Chatham classically expressed it, Themis reigns 
supreme, and leaves to the nations of the Continent the odium 
and shame of arbitrary rule. 

Let us, however, review these institutions, and that judicial 
and administrative machinery, which are nearly identical in 
England and Ireland, by means of which the former nation 
has reconciled " monarchy with liberty, tradition with progress, 
and acquired privileges with natural right * 

It will not be difficult to show the existence in Ireland on a 
large scale of that arbitrary rule which Earl Russell solemnly 
declared to be incompatible with just government. 

We can quote upon this point no more decisive authority 

* The Lord Bishop of Orleans' Sermon at St. Koch, p. 54, (1st edition). 


than that of Earl Russell himself ; and it is from him 
consequently that we borrow irrefutable testimony to the fact, 
when he uttered these words: "Nominally, indeed, the two 
countries have the same laws. Trial by jury, for instance, 
exists in both countries ; but is it administered alike in both ?* 

To say that under certain circumstances Irish Catholics are 
not treated by English law as favourably as foreigners, might 
appear a calumny in our mouth: we cannot, however, reject 
upon this point the testimony of Lord Macaulay, who declared 
the fact in the House of Commons, and was universally 
cheered for the statement.f 

There is room, therefore, left for a searching and critical 
examination, not of these institutions themselves, but of the 
manner in which they work in Ireland. This study has already 
been made in such a masterly, impartial, and disinterested 
manner, that we might have simply referred the reader to that 
part of M. Gustave de Beaumont's works, in which these 
questions are treated, had this administrative machinery not 
undergone certain modifications since the publication of his 
book. Since then certain abuses have been put an end to, and 
it would be unjust not to take them into account ; others still 
exist or have assumed even larger proportions, and we have a 
right to wonder at, and complain of it ; for a quarter of a century 
in the existence of a nation so powerful and enlightened as the 
British nation undoubtedly is, is a period of time which when 
progress and the reign of justice are concerned cannot have 
been lost with impunity. 

Let us, then, return to the judgment passed by M. de Beau- 
mont in 1839 on the public institutions of Ireland, as well to 
review it as when necessary to modify it; and let us see how 
far we must apply to those institutions the stern verdict of 
Earl Russell and Lord Macaulay. 

Four supreme courts hold their sittings in Dublin, and 
centralize the public power of the judicial and administrative 
order. They are, the Court of Queen's Bench, the Court of 
Exchequer, the Court of Common Pleas, and the Court of 

The administrative division of Ireland is that into thirty-two 
counties (the division into provinces is only, as in France, a 
memory of the past). The state is represented in them by 

* Lord John Russell's speech in the House of Commons, 13th February, 
1844. {see post -p. 32.) 

+ ' ' You are ready enough to call the Catholics of Ireland ' aliens ' when it 
suits your purpose ; you are ready enough to treat them as aliens when it suits 
your purpose ; but the first privilege, the only advantage of alienage, you 
practically deny them." (Hear, hear, and loud cheers. ) [Lord Macaulay, in 
the same debate.] 


the lord lieutenant of the county, the high sheriff, the deputy- 
lieutenants, and the magistrates.* 

A grand jury composed, of twenty- three members, nomin- 
ated by the sheriff, performs in each county the higher judicial 
functions, and holds administrative power. 

As a tribunal, the grand jury acts as the French " Chambre 
d'Accusation," and decides whether such and such a person 
accused of crime is to be discharged, or sent to the assizes to 
be tried before a petty jury. 

As an administrative body, the grand jury has the power of 
taxing the county, and carrying out works of public utility. 
In this sphere of power, however, the grand jury is not com- 
pletely independent, its orders being valid only after they have 
been sanctioned by the circuit judge. 

The functions of the petty jury are simply judicial. Em- 
panneled for every civil or criminal case, and consisting of 
twelve members nominated by the sheriff, it pronounces upon 
all questions of fact submitted to it by the judge, and, as 
in England, its verdict only stands when unanimous. 

The every-day local matters of justice are decided by land- 
lords, holding the title of justices of the peace, by royal commis- 
sion. These landlord magistrates are both officials of judicial 
police and judges. f 

In virtue of the former capacity, they receive complaints 
relative to crimes and offences, and make out the charges before 
the trial of the accused ; they either admit, or refuse to admit, 
the prisoners to bail. They have even a still greater power, 
namely, that of binding over to the peace any suspected person, 
although he be charged with no offence ; and when he is unable 
to find surety, they can commit him to prison.! 

In the petty sessions, as judges, they pronounce upon 
numbers of civil and criminal cases. In the quarter sessions 
held in the county towns, they have a right to sit and pronounce, 
in conjunction with the jury, upon all cases not entailing capital 

The justices of the peace are not salaried. 

A law, dating from the reign of William IV., associated 
with these judges certain magistrates appointed by the execu- 

* The lords lieutenants of counties, and the sheriffs, are appointed by the 
Viceroy ; the deputy-lieutenants are appointed also by him, on the recom- 
mendation of the lords lieutenants of counties : the magistrates are nominated 
by the Lord Chancellor. 

T They receive their commission from the Lord Chancellor on the represen- 
tation of the lord lieutenant of the county, himself named by the Viceroy ; we 
thus see the intimate connexion subsisting between those invested with judicial 
power and the political authorities. 

J M. de Beaumont, I., p. 26 



tive, with the same powers, but obliged to residence, and 
salaried. These stipendiary magistrates* number seventy- 

Let us add that, as in England, except in certain crimes in 
which the attorney-general prosecutes, the magistrates ad- 
minister justice only on the formal and spontaneous demand 
of those entitled to it. Besides this, however, by an arrange- 
ment peculiar to Ireland, the justices of the peace, sitting at 
quarter sessions, have the services of a lawyer sent on the 
circuit every quarter by government. He is called the Assistant 
Barrister (now the " Chairman "). 

Almost immediately after the opening of the sessions the 
magistrates usually withdraw ; and not only the direction of the 
debates is in the hands of the official lawyer, but it is he who 
virtually administers justice, although the justices of the 
peace keep their right of sitting.f 

•Such is, as nearly as possible, the working of the English 
system in the chief judicial and administrative institutions of 

The prevalent system in Ireland, as well as in England, is 
based nearly exclusively on feudal principles, by virtue of 
which ownership of land is usually a title to the exercise of 
power, whether executive, judicial, or administrative. 

The result of this is that, independently of the functions 
which are in the immediate gift of the central government, 
— and which, precisely on that account, are, as we have seen, 
more frequently confided to English Protestants than to Irish 
Catholics, — those who own the soil have a more or less con- 
siderable share of public authority. 

The application of this principle in England presents in 
itself nothing inconsistent with a sound and honest adminis- 
tration of justice, since both tenants and landlords, judges and 
parties pleading, belong to one race and one religion. Among 
the former the want, where it exists, of special legal knowledge 

* Magistrates appointed under the provisions of the act 6th William IV., 
c. xiii. — Thorn's Official Directory, 1861, p. 799. 

t It is easy to see that the importance attached, as a matter of fact, to the 
functions of the assistant barrister prevents the magistrates from taking a 
steady and serious part in cases which come before the court. A revolution 
analogous to this took place in France in the thirteenth century. The intro- 
duction of lawyers into the parliaments reduced the part taken in affairs by 
the haughty feudal barons to a very insignificant point ; in so much so that, in 
order to be spared the humiliation of being surpassed in public by a lot of 
wretched scholars, they avoided the courts of justice. They gave up their 
raised seats to those who shortly before would have been satisfied with stools 
placed at their feet. — See Memoirs de Saint Simon, chap, ccclxxiii, in which 
the historian, himself a great lord, testifies to and appreciates this change 
with a great deal of spleen. (See also unedited documents on the History of 
France — Les Olim. t. I. , Preface by Count Beugnot, p. lxxi. ) 



is made up for by natural uprightness and great kindliness; 
among the latter there is a feeling of confidence and of res- 
pect ; and, this, we imagine, is more than sufficient to secure 
for the English peasant an impartial verdict. Public opinion, 
too, — always watchful and severe, and certain to find a dreaded 
echo in the House of Commons — would never tolerate unjust 
magistrates, nor allow iniquitous prejudices to warp the 
regular action of justice. 

Consequently, in England the disadvantages inherent to the 
feudal system are compensated for by unity of race and creed, 
and by the unquestionable strength of traditions sufficiently 
respected to secure to the humble and the weak judicial im- 

In Ireland the case is very different. 

To whom, in fact, does the land belong in that country? 
We have shown in our historical introduction, how, by a 
series of spoliations directly affecting the rights of property, 
the greater part of Ireland was confiscated from the sixteenth 
up to the eighteenth century, and by what means an eleventh 
only of the soil was left to its ancient lords, the rest being 
divided between the London usurers, the soldiery of Crom- 
well, and the creatures of the English sovereigns. 

Now, although during the last three-quarters of a century* 
and within the last ten years especially,! a certain number of 
Irish Catholics have bought back with the fruits of their in- 
dustry the lands formerly possessed by their ancestors, and 
have thus become landlords ; still this does not do away with 
the general fact, that the masters of Ireland are Protestants 
of English or Scotch descent, — members of the Established 
Church or Presbyterians ; and that, in virtue of the still-existing 
feudal principle, these owners of the soil, these landlords, 
enjoy the greatest share of public power, and an influence 
which bears directly upon the judicial and administrative insti- 
tutions of Ireland. 

In that country, as in England, most landlords not avowedly 
hostile to the government are made justices of the peace : and it 
has been said, with some truth, that a list of the latter is a 
tolerably correct one of the former.J 

* It was not until 1778 that an act of George III. granted Catholics the 
right of holding land for a lease of 999 years. This did not yet restore them 
their rights of ownership ; these were only granted in 1782. (21 and 22 George 
III., c. xxiv.) 

f By means of the permanent establishment of the Landed Estates Court, 
of which we shall treat at length in another chapter. 

X We find in Thorn's Official Almanac for 1881, 3,740 landlords holding 
commissions of justices of the peace in Ireland. The complete list may be found, 
at pages 1150—1164. 


The landlords are, then, judges in the petty and quarter 

They are administrators and jurors, both on the grand and 
the petty juries. 

They have, therefore, in their hands the decision of the 
greater part of those matters which affect most nearly the daily 
interest of the mass of the nation. Now, the great mass of the 
nation is Catholic, and we can affirm that six- sevenths of the 
landlords, magistrates, and jurors, are Protestants. 

With what uprightness, equity, freedom from sectarian 
passions and party prejudices, must we not suppose him to be 
gifted, to believe that in the exercise of his double authority 
he will always bear in mind, that under the constitution 
granted by the Bill of 1829 Englishmen and Irishmen, Catholic 
and Protestant, are ideas merged in the one quality of citizens, 
having the same rights, protected by the same guarantees, and 
sharing the same liberties? Who can fail to see how illu- 
sory this great principle of the equality of all before the law 
may become, by reflecting that the exercise of those powers 
which have the most direct influence upon the life of a 
people are almost exclusively in the hands of the great land 
owners ; and that, with few exceptions, this privileged class is 
of English origin, that its convictions are Protestant, and its 
instincts but too frequently anti-national and anti-Catholic. 
Who would not, from this very fact, feel misgivings as to 
the amount of abuses and injustice hidden under fictitious 
and delusive legality? Who does not feel, even before an 
examination of facts and the sad study of details, in spite of 
constitutional theories, in spite even of the free and undoubted 
exercise of considerable rights, that the hateful results of 
former policy must still be felt at the present day? Who, 
in fine, can see without some such misgiving the interests 
of a population of five millions of Catholics dependent upon 
the decision, often without appeal, of a feudal oligarchy of 
four thousand Protestant landlords, charged with the adminis- 
tration of justice and the levying of a large portion of the 
taxes ? 

We must, however, in justice, state that, since M. Gustave 
de Beaumont's last journey to Ireland, the administration of 
justice has undergone a general improvement, to which state- 
ment we have heard the most determined enemies of England 
themselves subscribe. 

Thus, it would be no longer true to say, as it was in 1839, 
that " in every Irish tribunal there are two hostile camps in 
presence of each other ; that it is not a verdict which is being 
deliberated upon, but a piece of vengeance which is meditated; 


and that both judge and jury treat the Irish defendant like 
a species of idolator, who must be tamed by force — like an 
enemy whose destruction is a duty, — like a culprit condemned 
beforehand to death."* 

Assuredly that this was the case twenty-five years ago, 
and that a publicist as upright and honest as M. de Beaumont 
was obliged to stigmatize, whilst exposing them, such abuses 
and such a shameless triumph of passion and tyranny in 
the very sanctuary of law, is a grave matter ; and one 
would suppose it to be humiliating to any Englishman truly 
attached to his country to think that, less than a quarter 
of a century ago, such was the normal course of justice 
under the shadow of the British Constitution, and upon the 
responsibility of British ministers. 

Thanks, however, to a remarkable advance in public opinion, 
this impious profanation of justice and right has ceased to be 
general. It may, indeed, happen that in a particular case 
the judge forgets what is due to his personal dignity and 
to the position of the accused ; these cases are, however, 
rare, — and the press never fails to inflict severe and condign 
chastisement on those who would revive in courts of justice 
the dark traditions of a time not long past, when legal 
solemnity served as a " cloak for vengeance, and under the 
formalities of law skulked murderous violence."! 

Side by side, however, with progress, which it is a pleasure 
to acknowledge, are there not many abuses which justice 
obliges us to stigmatize ? Shall we not discover even in the 
application of the laws and administration of justice the too 
manifest action of those antipathies of race and creed, whose 
stubbornness is a formidable obstacle to the sound and con- 
scientious observance of constitutional equality? 

In cases of a purely civil character, when private interests 
are alone at stake, when politics and religion do not intervene, 
all agree that justice is equitably administered, and that 
principally by resident stipendiary magistrates, For although 
these magistrates are not always professional men, and al- 
though, generally, government aims in their selection at a 
powerful political prop rather than at the certainty of good 
administration, — still, after all, these magistrates are not judges 
in their own cause, and as it is the interest of the crown to 
secure them a certain kind of independence in presence of 
the landlord oligarchy, justice is very generally administered 
to the satisfaction of all parties. 

This is not always the case, however, even in matters 

* M. de Beaumont, I, p. 265. t M - de Beaumont, I, 265. 


foreign to religion and politics, in that very numerous class of 
cases in which the landlords themselves or their agents in 
their quality of justices of the peace have to pronounce upon 
matters, of every-day occurrence, in which the conflicting 
interests and pretensions of lord and peasant, landowner and 
tenant, come into play. 

Although by the constitution justices of the peace are 
removeable at the pleasure of government, still, as a rule, 
they are seldom deprived of their office ; and their responsi- 
bility is merely nominal, since they can only be summoned 
before the high courts of justice on the complaint of the 
injured party, who would have to wade through so many 
formalities, and generally run the risk of such serious conse- 
quences, that, as a fact, the magistrates are virtually left only 
to their own consciences. 

Irremoveable and irresponsible in fact, the magistrates, then, 
enjoy considerable power in the petty sessions, and their juris- 
diction extends even to many matters not properly within the 
province of justice: for example, they have the right of issuing 
trade licences; and, according to certain exceptional laws, that 
of giving or refusing permission to keep arms; and this juris- 
diction is of such a nature that it frequently gives rise to a 
conflict between the impartiality of the judge and the interest 
of the landlord, in which it is difficult for equity to come off 
uniformly victorious. 

Again, it is the magistrates at petty sessions who administer 
the game laws, which embody the rigours of feudal times, and 
of the haughty severity with which the slightest infraction of 
the seignorial rights were punished. Will the integrity of the 
magistrate always preserve, between the poacher and the game 
kept for the lordly pleasure of autumn sport, that strict 
neutrality without which the administration of justice is so 
easily made the weapon of a narrow-minded and bitter ven- 
geance ? 

Nevertheless a substantially good modification has been 
introduced into the petty sessions. Twenty-five years ago, 
trials were not public; the administration of justice was a kind 
of family matter between the judge and those brought before 
him ; the justice of the peace showed the parties into his study, 
and there (within closed doors) summarily decided upon the 
amount of fine or imprisonment. Since magistrates have been 
obliged to administer justice publicly it is an undoubted fact 
that they undergo a check at the hands of a powerful and 
dreaded press, and that thereby numerous abuses have dis- 

As to the rarer, but graver causes, in which religious and 



political interests are at stake, it is an unanimous opinion, 
shared as much by the friends as by the enemies of England^ 
that in them the principle of " equality of all before the law" 
is generally and outrageously violated. 

This point is of the greatest importance, and requires a 
separate chapter in order to be fully examined. 



Trial by jury is not an achievement of modern times. As far 
back as the beginning of the middle ages, it was the one 
institution which, in times of violence, secured justice, and 
afforded protection to the weak and oppressed.* 

The vigour of this principle has never flagged in the British 
Constitution, which, — inclined to mildness rather than to 
severity, in order effectually to protect the accused against the 
rigour of the law, — never admits a verdict unless unanimous. 

In England, this principle works freely enough: the jury 
is ordinarily of the same race and creed as the accused : pre- 
judice does not necessarily act either for or against him ; hence, 
every conflict of opposite and fixed conclusions, ends in the 
triumph of the milder and more humane sentiment.f 

In Ireland, too, the unanimity of the jury is essential to the 
validity of the verdict; therefore, when the accused is a 
Catholic, and the government wants a verdict of guilty, it 
must almost necessarily empannel an exclusively Protestant 
jury; or, if he be a Protestant of the national party, it must 
empannel either men entirely devoted to English interests, 
or members of the Orange faction. 

But how is this to be done? By what means can the 
government infallibly get a jury upon whose verdict it can 
count in any decisive circumstance? 

In every Irish county, the task of selecting those qualified to 
act as jurors, devolves upon the justices of the peace at the 
quarter sessions. As a general rule, every freeholder is entered 
in the jurors' book. 

* Upon the origin and development of the jury in England, see the learned 
work of M. Albert du Boys, formerly magistrate. — [Hist, clu Droit Criminel 
en Angleterre, p. 148.) 

t M. de Beaumont, I, p. 269. 

CHAP.- V.] 


It is the High-Sheriff of the county — the nominee of the 
Lord Lieutenant — that selects, before the assizes, a number 
of names from the jurors' book: this second list is what is 
properly termed the jury panel. 

The prerogatives of the sheriff, — who is, of course, a govern- 
ment partisan, a large landowner, and very frequently a Pro- 
testant, — are, in the matter of jury empannelling, briefly these : 
the power of entering names upon, or excluding them from, this 
list, a power discretionary and uncontrolled; discretionary 
and uncontrolled power of placing the names in the order best 
suited to meet a contemplated eventuality.* 

Out of two| or three thousand names, for instance, entered 
in the jurors' book, the sheriff makes a panel (list) of one 
hundred and fifty, taking care to head the list by forty or 
fifty jurors whose opinions are known to him and upon 
whom the government can count. 

Before the trials begin, these names are called over, in the 
order in which they are entered. The accused has a right 
to challenge ; but he can only challenge twenty of them. 

As to the crown, its right of challenging is unlimited; and 
the magistrate who exercises it in the name of the crown 
challenges, accordingly, until the final list consists of twelve 
names on whose possessors government has implicit reliance. 

Such is the proceeding known by the name of jury-packing ; 
a proceeding invariably had recourse to whenever government 
has reason to believe that the desired unanimity would not be 
found in a jury honestly empannelled. 

Of what do the Irish complain? ask the London papers, 
with mock sincerity. Have they not got trial by jury like 
ourselves ? 

Earl Russell shall answer this question, and complete the 
quotation, of which only the first few words are given above: 

* This power of the sheriff in the composition of juries, is not unusually so 
exercised as to violate the conditions and qualifications required by law, to 
entitle a man to be placed on this list. Thus, for iu stance, on the 27th of 
November, 1860, in the county and for the single barony of Armagh, the names 
of twenty persons, unduly inscribed, were cancelled on the demand of two 
lawyers belonging to the liberal party. These were all Tories ; one of them was 
even supposed to be at the head of an Orange Lodge : not one of them paid the 
rates which in the eye of the law, qualify a man to appear on this list. 

In two other baronies of the same county, (east and west O'Neiland), the 
activity of the same lawyers brought to light the names of about two hundred 
unqualified individuals inscribed on the lists. Nearly ninety belonged to the 
Orange party. It would be well if the investigations — crowned with such 
complete success in the county Armagh — were vigorously pushed forward in 
other counties. It would be a rude shock to the system of jury-packing, 
if the abuses — protected by the shade of record chambers, and the silence of 
interested parties — were brought to light. I find similar facts, as to another 
county, stated in the Tipporarj Advocate, for March, 1861. 



" It may be said* that the laws are the same for both coun- 
tries — that Ireland has nominally the same law as England — 
that the trial by jury is the same in both countries. Is it so, 
in fact? That it was not so was perpetual matter of com- 
plaint in Ireland, and more than once in England. On one 
occasion I recollect that an honorable member of this House, 
who in those days was accustomed to represent with great 
force and eloquence the grievances of all who were oppressed, 
whether in Europe or in America, Africa, or Asia, whether 
the complaints were made by white men or black, I mean 
Mr. Brougham, brought this complaint under the notice of 
this House in terms of very great strength and effect, in June, 
1823, on presenting a petition complaining of the administra- 
tion of justice in Ireland. Mr. Brougham then said: 

" ' The law of England esteemed all men equal. It was 
sufficient to be born within the King's allegiance to be entitled 
to all the rights the loftiest subject of the land enjoyed. 
None were disqualified by it; and the only distinction was 
between natural born subjects and aliens. Such, indeed, was 
the liberality of our system in times which we call barbarous, 
but from which, in these enlightened days, it might be well 
to take a hint, that even if a man were an alien born, he w#s 
not deprived of the protection of the law. In Ireland, JfiQw- 
ever, the law held a directly opposite doctrine. The sect to- 
which a man belonged — the cast of his religious opinions — 
the form in which he worshipped his Creator — were the 
grounds on which the law separated him from his fellows, 
and inured him to the endurance of a system of the most : jcifiel 

" Such was the statement of Mr. Brougham, in those davs 
when Mr. Brougham was the advocate or the oppressed. Was 
this the statement of a man ignorant of the condition of Ire- 
land; of a person who was stating that for which he had 
not sufficient foundation; who had been misinformed by 
enthusiasts and grievance-mongers? Not at all. Facts of 
the same description were stated in the most positive language 
by Sir Michael O'Loghlen, in his evidence before the House 
of Lords, in 1839. He said that he had been in the habit for 
nineteen years of attending the Munster Circuit. On that 
circuit, he said, it was the custom of the crown to set aside 
from the jury all Roman Catholics and all liberal Protestants; 
and he stated it as his belief that this practice was carried to 
a still greater extent on other circuits. He stated one case of 
this practice occurring as late as the year 1834, when Lord 

* Lord John Russell, in the House of Commons ; Debate on the State of 
Ireland, 13 Feb., 1844. (Hansard ; vol. 72 ; col. 687-9.) 

CftAP. V.] 


Wellesley was Lord Lieutenant, and when Mr. Blackburne, 
the present Master of the Rolls,* was the attorney-general. 
He stated that in that case, not a political case, forty-three per- 
sons bad been set aside, and that thirty-six of those were 
Roman Catholics, and seven Protestants. Amongst them 
were magistrates, and leaseholders, and persons of considerable 
property. .... Now, are these the laws of England? Does 
this at all resemble what takes place in selecting a jury in Kent, 
or Sussex, or Yorkshire, or Lancashire f Are these the laws, 
the just and equal laws, which Mr. Pitt promised should be 
extended to Ireland? Is this the fulfilment of the promises 
made at the Union? Is it not rather, as Mr. Brougham said, 
the distinction at once of sect and party — the separation of 
those who call themselves Protestants — which is, in fact, in 
Ireland, a political denomination from the rest of the commu- 
nity? Is it not the supremacy of political Protestants corrupting 
the sources of justice, and defrauding the people of that right of 
trial by an impartial jury which was declared due to them by 
the constitution of this country f 

The writers of the national party, or, as it is known on the 
continent, Young Ireland, stoutly maintain that the system of 
Jury-Packing is an essential part of the machinery of the 
British government in " the sister isle." One of them one 
day told us, not without some appearance of reason, it must 
be confessed, that the instruments of oppression there are 
generally in harmony with the form of government which 
uses them. An absolute government which need not trouble 
itself about public opinion may, without any immediate injury 
to itself, make use of simple brute force to get rid of its 
adversaries. A constitutional government must proceed more 
cautiously : the public eye is upon it, the press does not spare 
it. To make use of violence would be to compromise and 
lose everything. On the contrary, by jury-packing appear- 
ances are saved, constitutional forms seem to be respected, 
legality is not outraged, and the end is obtained, more slowly 
it is true but more surely. 

One would be inclined to look upon these accusations as 
the habitual recriminations of the vanquished, and the angry 
protestations of an impotent minority did examination of facts 
not clearly prove that it is no paradox. Jury-packing is an 
essential part of the machinery of the English government in 
Ireland. It is used in the nineteenth quite as effectively as it was 
in the sixteenth century, and for the same purpose. Whilst 

* Afterwards Lord Chief Justice, then Lord Chancellor, and now Lord 
Justice of Appeal. 




on most other points no two things can be more divergent than 
the policy of whig and tory, packed juries have the privilege 
of uniting in an astounding concord adversaries habitually 
irreconcileable, as though it were a matter settled beyond the 
possibility of discussion that without jury -packing govern- 
ment is an impossibility in Ireland. 

Tn his curious dialogue of Eudoxus and Irenaaus, written in 
1596, Spenser very naively sets forth the necessity incumbent 
upon the English of watching over and regulating this insti- 
tution (which in England required no superintendence), in 
very much the same way as certain revolutionists enlighten 
and regulate universal suffrage, to prevent its making any 
grievous mistakes. The fault lies with Irishmen, says he; 
for whenever they sat on a jury in a trial where the accused 
was an Englishman, he was doomed to destruction. "They 
make no more scruple to passe against an Englishman, and 
the queene, though it be to stragn their oathes, than to drink 
milke unstrayned."* 

The law then was in itself excellent ; but the Irish obliged 
them (the English) to look after it and regulate its working/]" 

The best remedy was evidently for the officers of the 
crown, judges, and other magistrates to take care in empannel- 
ing juries to get a majority of Englishmen, and to select such 
Irish as were of the " soundest judgment and disposition"^ 

An excellent remedy, doubtless, had not the inevitable disad- 
vantage of making the " Irish partie crye out of partialitie, 
and complaine he hath no justice — he is not used as a subject, 
he is not suffered to have the free benefite of the law."§ 

For the last three centuries, indeed, they have thus appre- 
ciated jury-packing, without, however, having been able to 
prevent its continuance. But what human institution would 
stand, if its abuses were made an unanswerable argument 
against it in spite of priceless advantages, which are quite as 
highly appreciated by the ministers of Queen Victoria as by 
the counsellors and admirers of Elizabeth? 

We know with what energy the lieutenant of Charles I., 
Viscount Wentworth (afterwards Lord Strafford), turned jury- 

* View of the State of Ireland, p. 438. 

t Yet is the law of itselfe good ; and the first institution thereof being 
given to all Englishmen very rightfully ; but now that the Irish have stepped 
into the very roomes of our English we are now to become heedful and provi- 
dent in jury es. — lb. p. 438. 

% " But this inconvenience might be much helped in the judges and chiefe 
magistrates which have the choosing and nominating of those jurors, if they 
would have dared to appoint either most Englishmen, or such Irishmen as 
were of the smndest judgment and disposition." — lb. p. 439. 

§ Ibid, p. 440. 

CHAP. V.] 


packing to account in the royal interest of England. The 
lawyers, whom the viscount took over with his soldiers, dis- 
covered that the whole of Connacht had no other lawful^ owner 
than his majesty. With an imposing force to back it, this 
decision of the lawyers was being universally and servilely 
received, when the triumph of the spoiler met with an unex- 
pected check in the county Galway. Strangely enough, 
Wentworth did not meet this resistance with the sword. A 
legal scruple obliged him to have recourse to a jury. To 
twelve jurymen was accordingly committed the task of decid- 
ing between the inhabitants of Galway, who wanted to hold 
their lands, and the crown, which coveted them. 

No pains were spared to extort from this jury a verdict in 
the king's favour. But, notwithstanding all Wentworth's 
efforts, the verdict confirmed to the inhabitants the possession 
of their domains. Darcy, the sheriff, was immediately arrested 
on the charge of having empanneled a bad jury — Wentworth 
asked for his head.* Sentenced to a fine of £1000, Darcy 
died in prison of ill-treatment. As to the jurymen, they 
appeared before the star-chamber of Dublin, and were sen- 
tenced to pay a fine of £4000 each ; and, besides, to declare 
upon their knees, before the viceroy, that not only they had 
been mistaken in their verdict, but that they had been guilty 
of actual perjury. They unanimously refused to submit to 
this humiliation. f 

After having punished, in this exemplary manner, the bad 
jury, Wentworth immediately set about getting a good one, 
on which there should be none but men of the " soundest 
judgment and disposition." This good jury did, in fact, give 
a good verdict, deciding that the county Galway, like the rest 
of Connacht, belonged to the king. 

When, some time afterwards, Strafford appeared before par- 
liament, his violence in Darcy 's case, and that of the first jury, 
figured among the counts upon which he was condemned. 
Not a word, however, is said of the packing of the second 
jury; whether it be that this appeared slight in comparison 
with the other charges, or whether the advantages resulting 
from the proceeding exculpated him in the eyes of parliament. 

In our own times, the English government has more than 
once had recourse to this system. In fact, we may state that 
whenever it has considered it its interest to bring that system 
into play, it has never failed to secure " good verdicts" by 
means of " good juries." 

To the honour of the law lords of the upper house be it 

* Hardiman's Hist, of Gohvai/, p. 105 ; quoted by M. De Beaumont, p. 59. 
+ Leland, iii. 30 ; Lingard ; Plowden, i. 25 ; M. De Beaumont, i 59. 



said, that in 1844 they protested against this scandalous viola- 
tion of the essential principles upon which trial by jury is 
based, by reversing the verdict against O'Connell, obtained 
solely by the jury-packing of the officers of the crown. This 
verdict had already been stigmatized by the energetic and 
eloquent protest of Macaulay. 

" I do say," said this distinguished historian, not yet a peer 
of the realm, " that on such a question it is of the greatest 
importance that the proceedings which the government have 
taken should be beyond impeachment, and that they should not 
have sought a victory in such a way that victory should be to them 
a greater disaster than defeat. Has not that been the result?"* 

The same orator reproached the crown with not granting to 
Irishmen the same privileges and guarantees as are enjoyed 
by foreigners, and accused the ministry with having perpe- 
trated an injustice under cover of a deceitful legality .f 

Later, it is true, the whigs came into power, and did, or at 
least tolerated and profited by the very thing with which they 
reproached the tories. This was not, however, of course, 
because Lord John Russell, as prime minister, had got the 
better of the disgust with which this ignoble process had 
always inspired him! Thus it was that in 1848, after the 
arrest of Mr. John Mitchel, editor of the United Irishman, 
and one of the chiefs of " Young Ireland," Lord John Russell 
declared to the House of Commons that he had written to 
Lord Clarendon, the viceroy, to state that " he trusted there 
would not arise any charge of any kind of unfairness, as to the 
composition of the juries; as for his own part, he would rather 
see those parties acquitted than that there should be any such 

These intentions were, undoubtedly, noble ; but the political 
necessity was urgent. State reasons spoke more convincingly 
than considerations of delicacy and honesty. Lord Clarendon 
gave him to understand, that for this time — though, indeed, 
for this time only— the whigs must sacrifice their maxims, 
which might for the future be undeviatingly adhered to. 

At that time the jurors' book of the city of Dublin contained 
the names of 4,570 individuals, of whom 2,935 were Catholics. 

* Speech of Rt. Hon. T. B. Macaulay, in the same debate ; 19th February. 
1844. Hansard, vol. 72, col. 1186. 

f " The affidavit which has been produced, and which has not been contra- 
dicted, states that twenty-seven Catholics were excluded from the jury list. 
I know that all the technicalities of the law were on the side of the crown ; 
but my great charge against the government is, that they had merely regarded 
this question in a technical point of view."— lb. (19th Feb. 1844, col. 1188.) 

% I take these words of Lord John Russell from Mr. John Mitchel's Last 
Conquest of Ireland, p. 268. 

CHAP. V.] 


The sheriff made up his panel of 150 names, of whom twenty- 
eight only were Catholics, and these in general were placed at 
the end of the list. The prisoner's counsel used their right of 
challenge, and set aside twenty names ; the crown in its turn 
exercised its unlimited right, and set aside thirty-nine, of which 
nineteen were those of Catholics; so that the final panel 
consisted of twelve Protestants, among whom two or three 
were Englishmen, the others Castle tradesmen — all known to 
be Orangemen or anti-Repealers.* 

It was by these means, which Lord John Russell had pre- 
viously so sternly condemned, that Mr. John Mitchel was 
sentenced to fourteen years' transportation. The whig 
government thus lost the right of ever again using the jury- 
packing argument against the tories ; for in all the political 
trials which followed the insurrection of 1848, and the victory 
of England, the whigs had regularly recourse to this system. 
In vain did the public voice, even throughout England, nay, 
even in London, protest loudly against this hypocritical viola- 
tion of constitutional guarantees. The cabinet was determined 
not to yield ; and as in Rome, upon the proclamation of the 
tumultus Gallicus, everything — law, privileges, individual and 
public liberties — momentarily disappeared under the dictator- 
ship, and the salvation of the people became the only law ; so 
in England there was a sort of " tumultus Hibernicus ;" the 
question was not whether ancient liberties solemnly invoked 
in the British parliament, and guaranteed both by custom and 
the constitution, should be respected or violated; no, the 
question was to hold Ireland at any price, and not to compro- 
mise by vain scruples a conquest, which a struggle of seven 
centuries had not yet consolidated. 

A chartist meeting was held in London ; vehement protests 
were made against the system of jury-packing, and against 
the condemnation of Messrs. Mitchel and Martin. One of the 
speakers was sentenced to two years imprisonment. And even 
sometime afterwards, when Messrs. Smith O'Brien, Mac Manus, 
and O'Donoghue appeared consecutively before the tribunals 
to answer for the call to arms which they had raised among 
the hills of Tipperary, the crown had not sufficient faith in 
the righteousness of its cause to allow justice to take its ordi- 
nary course. In every one of these cases, the juries were 
carefully packed; and four sentences of death, commuted by 
the queen's clemency, issued from these juries arbitrarily 
chosen, and manifestly devoid of that impartiality without 

* As Mr. John Mitchel was a Protestant, it was not so much a question of 
setting aside Catholics, as of selecting jurors who in any case would enter into, 
the views of the government. 



which the solemnity of justice is nothing but a cruel tragedy, 
of which the issue is known beforehand. 

The whigs having, on this capital head, swerved from those 
principles of probity so honorably and advantageously upheld 
by them when in the opposition, people were warranted in 
considering jury-packing as one of the permanent elements of 
English justice in Ireland, whenever political questions had to 
be dealt with. 

May it not, however, be maintained with regard to the 
above cases, that the commotion and perils of 1848 more 
than warranted these illegalities, and that, although evil must 
never be done that good may come of it, still there are cir- 
cumstances in which the general good seems not only to 
justify but even to require painful exceptions to ordinary 
rules ? 

The discussion of this question here is completely super- 
fluous, since it is easy to show the continuance of the same 
proceedings in the midst of the most profound tranquillity, and 
at times when the English government could no longer have 
alleged, as a pretext, the perils of insurrection. The fact is 
patent enough, that since 1848 Ireland has been (and was, in 
fact, immediately after the severe measures of doubtful 
legality which scattered in exile the most influential of the 
national party), quiet and calm. Not that this tranquillity is 
to be taken as a sign of attachment to English rule, and of 
confidence in the cabinet ; but that, as a matter of fact, this 
tranquillity reigns there ; that the laws are obeyed ; and that 
authority, whether civil, administrative, or judicial, is unim- 
peded in its action, and meets with no other opposition than 
that encountered in speeches and newspapers, as in England. 

Why, then, is this ignoble and dishonest system of jury- 
packing continued ; a system which is to a whole class of 
citizens — and, as it happens, by far the most numerous in Ire- 
land — a scathing insult ? Why perpetuate, by the use of means 
which cannot but foment them, discontent and disaffection? 
Why corrupt, by this impure alloy, that sacred thing called 
justice? Is it not evident that grave evil is done to the ideas 
and moral conscience of a people, when it is taught to believe 
that in the hands of the powerful justice can never be other 
than an instrument of oppression and a weapon of vengeance? 

In 1859, the government discovered the existence, in the 
county of Kerry, of a secret society. The tories were then 
in power; and Mr. Whiteside had been appointed attorney- 
general for Ireland. The minutest precautions were taken by 
this gentleman to secure the condemnation of the accused. 
He began by appointing to preside at the Tralee assizes a 


judge whose ministerial leanings were of public notoriety, 
and who, during the whole course of the trial clearly evinced 
the strongest bias against the prisoners. The really important 
point was, however, to make sure of the jury; and, of course, 
packing was a necessary requisite. This was done so effec- 
tually, that, in a county where the Catholics are about nine 
times as numerous as the Protestants, the twelve finally 
empanneled were Protestants without exception. 

Public opinion loudly protested against this signal violation 
of justice. A meeting was held in Tralee during the month 
of April,* at which the Bishop of Kerry, Dr. Moriarty, two 
Catholic members of the House of Commons, Lord Castlerosse, 
and the O'Donoghue, together with a great number of gentle- 
men, both Catholics and Protestants, assisted, and passed a 
vote of strong censure upon the proceedings of government. 

The O'Donoghue, member of parliament for Tipperary, 
proposed that a petition should be addressed to both houses, 
praying for the adoption of such measures as should render 
the like abuses impossible for the future ;f and Dr. Moriarty, 
a prelate greatly esteemed for the practical wisdom of his 
views, in language at once firm and temperate, protested 
against that jury-packing, by which, " after thirty years of 
emancipation, we Catholics are branded as bigots and aliens in 
our native land; branded as worse — as perjurers and men 
without a conscience." 

Seconded by the public voice, this energetic protest afforded 
the whigs, who shortly afterwards came into office, an easy 
opportunity of gaming popularity. The " Phoenix" trials had 
been so scandalous — violation of all equity had been so flagrant, 
—that the new ministry set at larget he prisoners. Care was 
taken, however, not to give this measure the character of a. 
reparation. The cabinet declined the formal responsibility of 
it, and evaded the questions relative to this matter which were 
put to it in the House of Commons. 

With what countenance, indeed, could the whigs disavow 
and blame a practice of which they had already availed them- 
selves, the use of which they had no notion of proscribing? 

The last general election had scarcely closed, when a mayor 

* The sheriff of the county had been requested to call this meeting, but he 
refused to do so in order not to compromise himself before the government, 
whose nominee he was. The meeting was called by the justices of the peace. 

+ This petition declared : that legal agitation should not cease until the law 
regarding juries should be established on an equitable basis ; it called the world 
to witness that the petitioners did not complain without grounds ; it declared 
that the page in which the history of this trial should be found ought to be 
placed before the eyes of man, with this inscription : — An Orange Prosecution. 
Paid Witnesses?, and a Packed Jury ; such is Justice, as administered to the 
Irish people in 1859 ! 


of one of the towns of the north of Ireland was accused of 
having lent a hand to manoeuvres which cost the Protestant 
candidate his seat. This mayor was a Catholic, and belonged 
to a county in which the Protestants do not amount to a sixth 
of the population. The jury, an exclusively Protestant one, 
brought in a verdict against him, and he was sentenced to fine 
and imprisonment. 

In 1860, during the summer assizes at Ballina (county Mayo) 
a Protestant appeared in court, charged with having attempted 
the life of a Catholic. The proofs were conclusive, and the 
judge asked for a verdict of guilty. The jury had, however, 
been packed; and the culprit was acquitted. 

At the very time when we were leaving Ireland, (October, 
1860), another trial, which took place in the county Tyrone, 
had been characterized by the same dishonest manoeuvring on 
the part of government, and had called forth the same strong 
remonstrances on the part of the bar, and the independent 
press. Two Catholics were tried for having assaulted and 
maltreated a Protestant. They alleged, in their justification, 
that the Protestant began the affair by insulting them and 
calling them bloody papists. This was one of those affairs 
termed in Ireland party cases, that is, cases in which religion is 
at the bottom of the matter. The Catholics were condemned, — 
one to six, the other to two months' imprisonment. The jury 
was entirely Protestant. The prisoners' counsel immediately 
procured from the under-sheriff the list of the jury empanneled 
for this session. Of 150 names entered, one alone was that of 
a Catholic, and he had been " sent to try cow cases." The 
counsel indignantly protested against the scandalous iniquity 
of putting an exclusively Protestant jury to try such a case as 
this, adding, that so long as such things were permitted the 
law would inspire no confidence.* 

A Belfast solicitor, summoned to give his opinion upon a 
practice, with which twenty years experience had made him 
but too familiar, said a short time ago (and his evidence is all 
the more forcible, as coming from a Presbyterian), that he had 
" always been of opinion that the hopeless submission of Roman 

Catholics to oppression encourages its continuance That 

if under a Roman Catholic sovereign, law officers of the same 
persuasion would, in Belfast, dare to try Protestants, charged 

* " This is really disgraceful. There is only the name of one Roman Catholic 
upon the jury-panel, and that gentleman has been sent to try cow cases. It is 
really scandalous to try party cases of this kind by an exclusively Protestant 
jury, and there can be no confidence in the administration of the law as long 
as such things are permitted." (Mr. M'Crossan, Solicitor, Strabane Quarter 
Sessions, 19th Oct , 1860). 


with a political offence, by an exclusively Roman Catholic jury, 
it would-be difficult to prevent a general insurrection of the 
Protestants of Ulster." 

A trial, which a short time ago made a great noise in Ire- 
land, has thrown the fullest light upon the odious sectarian 
partiality manifest in the choice of jurors. 

The editor of one of the chief Catholic papers of Dublin, 
the Morning News, had, in the month of July, 1861, given 
publicity to a letter, in which the under-sheriff of the county 
Armagh was charged with having, during a number of years, 
made up the jury lists in such a manner, as to exclude the 
Catholics, or, at least, to assign them a place totally out of 
proportion with their numbers. 

The under-sheriff immediately entered an action for libel 
against the paper which had re-produced this letter. The 
latter months of the year 1861, were spent in preparation for a 
, trial, which was to throw light upon one of the most important 
points of public administration. This single debate would 
substantiate or destroy the grave accusations under which the 
Protestant officers of the crown had so long laboured. 

This capital question called forth a marked manifestation of 
opinion among the Catholics of Ireland. Month after month, 
meetings, speeches, addresses, and subscriptions followed one 
another, in favour of the paper which had so vigorously attacked 
the jury-packing system, and undertaken, at its own risk, the 
defence of the rights of Irish Catholics. Men of the highest 
standing, both lay and ecclesiastical, joined the movement. 
The archbishops and bishops of Ireland were the first to send 
in their subscriptions. All felt that it was no private suit 
which was going before the Court of Queen's Bench. It was 
a great national and religious trial, in which jurors and judges 
were to pronounce upon one of the oldest and weightiest of 
Ireland's wrongs. 

The solemnity of the debates was in keeping with the 
magnitude of the question. The conduct of the lord chief 
justice, during the whole trial, was impartial.* 

The evidence upon oath given in court, and subjected 
to the most scrutinising cross-examination by the plaintiff's 
counsel, revealed to the public the proportions in which, 
during the six preceding years, Protestants and Catholics had 
figured in the jury panels of the county Armagh, 

The following table shows these proportions with the most 
rigorous exactness: — 

* " Court of Queen's Bench. — Hardy v. Sullivan, 11, 12, 13, 14, December, 





Assize Sessions. 

Number of 




Proportion of Protes- 
tants to Catholics. 

1856 j 

1857 j 

1858 j 

1859 j 

1860 j 

1861 -j 































121 to 1 
124 to 1 

14i to 1 
11 to 1 

10 to 1 
9 to 1 

10i to 1 
8* to 1 

94 to 1 
114 to 1 

7£to 1 
10 to 1 

Although these figures proved, as clearly as evidence can 
do, the influence exercised by sectarian party prejudices 
over the officers of the crown, to the detriment of the just 
rights of Catholics, still a verdict was given against the editor 
of the paper. 

The facts were patent; no denial of them had been 
attempted. No written law obliged the sheriff's to take into 
consideration, in empanneling juries, religious denomination. 
The plaintiff's counsel got a verdict by insisting upon the letter 
of the law, although the spirit of it was clearly and scandal- 
ously violated. 

According to strict right, which, says the old adage, 
trenches so nearly upon strict wrong, the county Armagh 
magistracy had in nowise overstepped its powers, since in these 
matters they are discretionary and absolute. Thank God, 
however, the trial before the Court of Queen's Bench, in 
December, 1861, was something more and something weightier 
than a libel suit between individuals. The court on the 11th, 
12th, 13th, and 14th of December, 1861, entered upon nothing 
less than a solemn trial of the spirit ruling the application of 
British laws to Irish Catholics. 

This spirit was not only tried, but condemned. The reser- 
vation made by the jury, the amount of damages, merely 
nominal, awarded to the plaintiff are in themselves a strong 
protest against a verdict required by the letter of the law. 

Both judge and. jury might as well have said: It maybe 
according to law, but it is certainly dishonest, to continue a 


treatment of Catholics marked by such evident partiality. 
The statutes of the realm do not require a single Catholic to 
be empanneled upon a jury. For this reason we give a ver- 
dict in favour of the magistrate, and against the journalist. 
We wish, notwithstanding, to show that although the letter of 
the law acquit the one and condemn the other, natural equity, 
conscience, and public opinion give a totally opposite verdict ; 
that they loudly protest against the continuance of a sectarian 
spirit, calculated to perpetuate among the inhabitants of one 
same country the most fatal divisions. 

May the trial of December, 1861, put an end for ever to 
those abuses which it has so clearly brought to light ! — may the 
dishonest and fatal tradition of jury-packing close for ever 
with these celebrated debates ! The true friends of the English 
government are more interested than any others in responding 
by a hearty amen ! 

Nothing, in fact, is more calculated to lessen the moral 
authority of a government, without which material strength 
is powerless, than mistrust or doubt concerning the equity of 
legal decision. The confidence of a nation's representatives 
maybe purchased — the treaty of 1800 is but too celebrated and 
shameful an example of the fact ; the journalist's pen may be 
bought, and the liberty of the press become a delusion ; but if 
in the tribunals judges and juries are above suspicion, a nation 
oppressed and betrayed though it be still possesses guarantees, 
themselves a source of moral power to the government which 
respects them. If, on the contrary, dishonest practices have, 
unhappily, tarnished the reputation of those who sit in judg- 
ment upon the life and fortune of the citizen, it may be 
affirmed that the res publico, stands upon an unsound basis, and 
that the government which fears not to introduce these fatal 
practices into the sanctuary of the law, compromises there its 
safety, after having there lost its honour. 




In Ireland the justices of the peace, assembled in " quarter 
sessions," confine themselves to the administration of justice. 
To the twenty-three jurors, composing the grand jury, and 
nominated by the sheriff, belong all matters of local ad- 

The most important prerogative of grand juries, however, 
the one from which the most lamentable abuses have sprung, 
and to modify or reduce which many bills were presented to 
parliament during the session of 1861, is that of taxing the 
county .j 

These taxes are levied for the following purposes: 

Construction and repairs of roads, bridges, quays, courts of 
justice, and prisons. 

To meet the expenses of houses of detention, and the 
police force. 

Salaries of county officers ; works of public charity ; provi- 
sion for repayment of government loans ; and different other 
county expenses. 

Among these expenses some are left to the decision of the 
grand jury, others are ordered by government, and must 
always form part of the taxes. Among the latter are those 
necessary for the foundation and support of the county and 
district hospitals and infirmaries; the establishment and repairs 
of diocesan schools ; inquest expenses ; police pay ; rearing of 
foundlings; salary expenses of commissioners of public works; 
fines for wilful damage; expenses necessitated by the pro- 
visions of the arms' bill; and a few other objects of minor 

* For the judicial powers of the grand jury, see ante, p. 56. The exercise 
of these powers has more than once provoked just complaints. The influence 
which political and religious prejudices may exercise upon a criminal court, 
usually made up of Protestants, is easily understood, when a decision is to be 
come to, whether, against such and such a prisoner, the bills shall be "ignored," 
or he be sent for trial to the assizes. 

+ "Local taxation" is divided into general and particular. The general 
taxes are : — 1. Grand jury cess ; 2. Poor rates ; 3. Parish cess. Particular 
taxes are those destined for the paving, lighting, &c, &c, of towns authorised 
to adopt the Towns Improvement Act of 1854.-^Thom's Official Directory, 
1861, p. 711. 

J Thorn's Official Directory, 1861, p. 711. 


Nothing, assuredly, is more manifestly at variance with the 
fundamental principles of the English constitution than these 
financial powers of grand juries in Ireland * 

From magna charta, to the declaration of rights in 1689, 
the one constant maxim, the justice of which the British 
nation would never suffer to be called in question is " no tax 
upon the nation to which the nation has not consented by its 
representatives." The violation of this principle cost Charles I. 
his crown and his head. When the Stuarts made way for the 
house of Orange, this was one of the first guarantees to which 
the nation bound the new dynasty, by exacting from it a 
solemn pledge. The composition of grand juries is the 
formal abandonment of this principle. They are assemblies 
arbitrarily nominated by an agent of the executive power; 
and they levy taxes upon the people without being its repre- 

Twice a-year, i. e., before the spring and summer assizes, 
the sheriff makes out the grand jury list. In this matter his 
power is even more absolute and discretionary than in that of 
the ordinary juries. The accused have the right of challenge 
in the case of petty juries, whereas the ratepayer does not 
enjoy this right with regard to grand juries. The sheriff is 
responsible to no one for the manner in which he makes out 
his list. He is only bound to choose at least one juror from 
ench barony in the county. With the exception of this imma- 
terial restriction his freedom of choice is absolute. 

This choice invariably falls upon the richest landowners of 
the county, or upon their agents; and although the jury-list 
is renewed twice yearly, the same names nearly always figure 
upon it.J Do the personal, religious, and political lean- 
ings of the sheriff exercise any influence upon the composition 
of the grand jury lists? To deny that they do would be 
impossible. The unanimity of the evidence relative to this 
question, and recent facts, leave no doubt upon the matter. 
Thus, for instance, in July, 1859, in a county where not only 
the Catholics are in the proportion of ten to one to the Pro- 
testants, but in which there are more wealthy Catholic land- 

* "Taxation and representation are inseparable. " (Lord Camden). "To 
be taxed without being represented is contrary to the maxims of law and the 
first principles of the constitution." (Lord Chatham). 

f See resolutions passed at a meeting held at Dublin, May 30, 1861, under 
the presidency of Captain Darley. " Such a law," said Mr. J. Byrne at this 
meeting of ratepayers, " is unjust and unreasonable on principle and in 
practice. The House of Commons would not suffer the House of Lords to 
establish a tax, because the House of Lords is not a representative assembly." 

J " Tt may be further observed, that, with few exceptions, the panels for 
the last ten years have been exact copies of each other." {Mayo Telegraph, 
quoted in the Dublin News, of 26th July, 1861.) 


owners than in any other part of Ireland; out of twenty- 
three jurors, nominated by the sheriff to serve on the summer 
jury, two only were Catholics and twenty-one Protestants. 

Thus it happened that when a few days afterwards a 
deputation presented itself to ask for a grant to a Catholic 
penitentiary, the task of examining whether the request ought 
to be taken into consideration was confided to five Protestant 

One may easily judge of the amount of confidence rate- 
payers have in the impartiality of such assemblies (invested 
with an arbitrary power, and governed by interest or party 
spirit), of levying upon the country a very material part 
of the taxes. 

For a considerable period, and up to a time not far distant, 
the most cynical egotism\ marked the division of taxes levied 
by the great landlords. A parliamentary inquiry, made in 
1832, mentions landlords, who, not having received their 
rents from their tenants, found means of getting paid by a 
grand jury vote. J 

At this same time, these assemblies were justly charged 
with deciding according to their private interests upon all 
works, improvements, and embellishments, comprised under 
the head of works of public utility. § 

These abuses, so severely handled by one of our great French 

* Grand jury of the county of Cork, summer session. (See papers of Dublin 
and Cork, of 21st to 31st July, 1860.) 

T" Expressions unaltered by M. de Beaumont, in 1845, in the 6th edit, of his 
book, (I. 279.) 

% State of Ireland, 1832, pp. 187, 208. (Quoted by M. de Beaumont, 
I., 382.) 

§ Let M. de Beaumont speak in his owu words. The reader will see that 
I am far from expressing myself with the strength to which he carries the just 
severity of his language ; and that by invoking such powerful testimony, I 
might have been much less sparing ia my appreciation of the abuses of the 
Irish Protestant aristocracy : — ' ' Invested with the exorbitant right to tax the 
county, they overwhelm the poor by imposts, from which they are careful to 
preserve the rich. And of these taxes, when levied, what use do they make ? 
They expend them for the advantage of the rich, and they apply no part of 
them to the profit of the poor. If they have to devote anything to relief, they 
accord it to the Protestants, and give no share to the Catholics; yet, the 
latter are the poor, and they alone want aid, of which the former are not in 

need Authority is in their hands but a means of advancing their 

private interests. Is there a question of a new line of road ? They consider 
not the wants of the country, but only their own personal convenience ; and the 
people have to pay a heavy tax, not to connect together any important centres 
of population, but to establish an easy and agreeable communication between 
the seats of two rich men .... What then will they do for the people ? They 
build them barracks and prisons, the only establishments which in Ireland are 
built in splendour. In fact, they commit so many enormous abuses, so many 
gross frauds, so many excesses before unheard of, that in the end they will 
render proverbial in England the malpractices of Irish grand juries — Irish 
' Grand Jury Jo&s.'"— De Beaumont; ed. of 1845, i. 279, 280. 


publicists, no longer exist to the same extent that they had 
twenty years ago. 

Formerly the county taxes were voted, and the debates 
concerning them took place with closed doors. Now-a-days 
the sittings, in which the local budgets are voted, are public. 
Moreover the expenses determined upon by grand juries are 
previously examined and discussed by a certain number of 
ratepayers, appointed by the grand jury itself. These rate- 
payers sit with the magistrates in the baronial sessions,* in 
order to study the proposed presentments. 

This modification conceded to the just reclamations of 
public opinion, is however far from having extinguished the 
completely arbitrary principle on which the organization of 
grand juries in Ireland is founded. Those ratepayers upon 
whom is conferred a kind of right of examination of the 
financial operations of the grand juries, are only very indirectly 
the representatives of their fellow citizens ; they are selected by 
the grand jury, not elected by the taxpayers;! and as for the 
members of the jury, they are still less the elected of the 
nation, for they are but selected by the government through 
the sheriff; so that even to this day the great constitutional 
principle, that without representation there can be no taxation, 
remains a stranger to the organization of grand juries. 

In 1849 an Irish member called the attention of parliament 
to this grave question ; but, as often happens to Irish business, 
it was postponed to the following session.^ Six years after- 
wards, in 1855, Sir Denham Norreys endeavoured to bring in 
a bill, which, however, was always postponed, from session to 
session, to 1857. 

In 1860 and 1861 public opinion was more seriously than 
ever awakened to the necessity of introducing the equitable 
principle of representation into the grand jury system. 

A remarkable speech of Lord Fermoy, at a meeting of 
magistrates and ratepayers of the East Riding of Cork,§ showed 
by authentic figures that Ireland is, of all the countries in 
Europe, that which bears the heaviest burthen of local taxa- 
tion,! Some months later (Jan. 1861), at a barony sessions of 
the same county, composed of magistrates and ratepayers 

* " Special session," " road sessions," " baronial sessions." 

t "Selection is not Election.'''' 

% "In 1849 an Irish member had endeavoured to excite action upon this 
question, but it was said : l Oh ! leave it over to next session, and something 
shall be done.' That ' next session' was a favourite period for considering all 
Irish matters."— Speech of Mr. Butt, M.P. for Youghal, in the H. of C, March, 
1861. ° ' 

§ September, 1860. 

|| " I have come to the conclusion that Ireland is the country of all Europe 
that pays most heavily to local taxation." 




deputed to take part at the meeting, the chairman, a great 
Protestant proprietor, was able to say, that the grand jury • 
system was completely " rotten," that the present state of the 
law was so iniquitous, that it could not last longer ; and that 
it was full time that the ratepayers were represented.* 

In the month of March Mr. Butt moved in the House for 
the appointment of a committee to inquire into the financial 
powers belonging to grand juries, and to consider the improve- 
ments of which the existing system was susceptible. The 
motion was negatived by a majority of ninety-four. Mr. 
Cardwell, secretary of state for Ireland, invited, however, 
members to use their right, and present bills upon the subject. 
Two bills were, indeed, laid upon the table of the house — one 
embodying the ideas of Mr. Butt, and brought in by Mr. Bag- 
well (member for Clonmel), the other, containing a few minor 
amendments, without striking at the root of the evil, brought 
in by Colonel French, member for the county Roscommon. 

The session of 1861 came to a close without the adoption of 
any measure. Let us hope that before the session of 1862 
closes, parliament will have satisfied the well-grounded demands 
of the Irish rate-payer, and have set grand juries in harmony 
with the rest of the British constitution. 

The question of local taxes would be one of slight importance 
compared to that of the general taxes voted in the yearly 
budget by the legitimate representatives of the nation, did not 
these taxes amount yearly to a considerable sum, and add a 
heavy burthen to that of the other public contributions. Within 
the last six years especially, they have materially augmented. 

The sum total of rates levied by grand juries was — | 
In 1853 £879,328 



A tax, then, of more than a million sterling is annually levied 
in Ireland by an oligarchy of wealthy land owners. Thus has 
fared that primary principle of public right — "no taxation 
without representation " — a principle anterior even to consti- 

* <( 

It has been my confirmed opinion for a very long time, that our grand 
jury system is most rotten . . . rotten from beginning to end ... I really think 
that every man who pays those rates should have a voice in the levying of 
them . • . The time has arrived when something ought to be done to change 
the present iniquitouss ystem." — Lieut. Col. Roche, J.P., Chairman ; 26th Jan., 
t Thorn's Official Directory, p. 711. 



tutional government, in a country supposed to be ruled by the 
law of England. 

If this tax is radically an unjust one, inasmuch as it has 
neither representation nor the consent of the rate-payer to 
back it, the manner in which it is levied is not less objection- 
able, for it is difficult to see in what manner proportionate 
equality is observed in its division. 

In fact, the ground of division of the taxes levied by grand 
juries is not the possession but the occupation of land. Take, 
for example, a wealthy landlord owning ten thousand acres, 
himself occupying, however, and farming only one thousand, 
the remaining nine thousand being let out ; the rent-roll of this 
landlord goes for nothing in the distribution of the grand jury 


Nine-tenths of the taxes are paid by the tenantry, many of 
whom have no lease, and are not sure of holding six months 
the tenements upon which the local tax is levied. Of these 
same taxes the great landlord pays but a tenth ; he, however, 
is the one most certain to profit by the works of public utility, 
to the accomplishment of which the taxes will be devoted, just 
as it is he who is most frequently called upon to vote the 
amount of these rates in the half-yearly meetings of the grand 

We have seen above, that by virtue of an act of parliament, 
one of the obligations imposed upon the grand jury is that of 
levying an additional rate upon the whole or part of the 
county, as compensation for malicious injuries.^: This right 
or duty of grand juries very easily beeomes an instrument of 
oppression in the hands of the landlords composing these 
administrative assemblies ; and it is a matter of legitimate 
surprise to us that the British parliament authorises and holds 
itself responsible for an arbitrary institution which carries the 
mind back to the worst times of feudal despotism. 

A very recent instance will show how diametrically opposite 
these financial powers of grand juries are to those constitu- 
tional pledges, the benefit of which every British subject, 
without exception, has a right to claim. 

The landlords of Donegal have, within the last few years, 
introduced a marked change into the working of their estates, 

* Although frequently the amount of rent exceeds from 15 to 25 percent., 
the figure of the official valuation. — Griffith's General Valuation. 

t " The tenantry are made to pay for the roads, bridges, jails, asylums ; while 
the landlords, the wealthier class, who could bear taxation far better than the 
tenant class, are almost wholly exempted from contributing towards their 
maintenance."— Cork Examiner, 27th July, 1861. 
£ Thorn's Official Directory, p. 711. 




and have inaugurated a kind of violent revolution in farming 
among those bleak mountains.* 

A considerable number of small farmers, enjoying, in virtue 
of an immemorial and hitherto undisputed custom, the right 
of grazing their flocks upon the scanty herbage of these 
mountains, saw themselves suddenly deprived of the benefit of 
this prescription. Thousands of acres of heath and common 
came into the market, and were let to foreign settlers, mostly 
Scotchmen and Presbyterians. The breeding of cattle on a 
large scale being introduced by them, a regular invasion of 
the wild districts of the north accompanied it. We shall have 
to treat later on the consequences to the poor native tenantry 
of this sudden revolution. Here we have simply to deal with 
the fact, inasmuch as it bears upon the financial powers of 
grand juries. The Scots, then, soon complained of material 
losses among their flocks of sheep. These losses were imme- 
diately put down to wilful malice, and to feelings of base 
revenge on the part of the previous holders. A memorial was 
accordingly presented by the Scotchmen begging the grand 
jury of the county to levy an additional tax upon the inhabit- 
ants of the districts in which these losses were proved to have 
taken place. This tax was in fact voted, and fixed at thirty- 
five shillings per sheep. Since the introduction of this tax, 
not a session passes in which the Scotch breeders do not 
present a list of the sheep which have naturally perished in 
the mountains, and demand from the unfortunate tenants of 
Donegal sums, which, added to the rent, and ordinary local 
taxes, (police-tax, poor-rates, &c.) render existence such, that 
numbers prefer crossing the ocean, and seeking in America 
or Australia a less precarious and less difficult livelihood. 

The intervention of one of the chief judges of Ireland in this 
matter has opened the eyes of the most prejudiced and most 
partial to the incredible abuses to which, for some years, 
thousands of poor peasants, have had to bow in silence. 
To-day even these abuses would, perhaps, be looked upon as 
an equitable administration of justice, had not the respected 
voice of a high functionary courageously condemned them. 

During the summer assizes of 1860 a Northumberland 
breeder, of some years' standing among the Donegal mountains, 
claimed pecuniary compensation for more than two hundred 
and fifty sheep, stated by him to have been killed, stolen, or 
maliciously injured on the night of the 15th of January pre- 
ceding. The grand jury voted his claim well founded, and 

* We shall develope this point fully when treating, further 1 on, on the capital 
question of property and its working in Ireland. 


allowed him £335. This sum was to be levied, as an extra- 
ordinary rate, upon the inhabitants of the district in which 
the supposed loss had taken place. The poor farmers, upon 
whom this crushing charge was to fall, opposed the claim of 
the English breeder. The case was taken before Lord Chief 
Justice Monahan, chief judge of the Court of Common Pleas, 
who was at that time on the circuit. After having examined 
the case the lord chief justice declared that he was convinced, 
as firmly as of his own existence, that the sheep had not been 
maliciously destroyed.* 

In order, however, to come to a juridical decision, he ordered 
that the case should be laid before a jury, before which the 
witnesses of the respective parties were examined. This jury 
of twelve was an exclusively Protestant one. The evidence 
submitted to it abundantly proved that the sheep had much 
more probably fallen under the severity of the weather than 
under individual malice. In the ravines a large number of 
these animals had been found. It had been impossible to dis- 
cover upon them any marks of violence. The wet and cold 
had killed them. The jury decided unanimously against the 
groundless claim of the English breeder, and for once the poor 
peasants of Gweedore escaped the heavy contribution with 
which they had been threatened. Who can doubt for a moment 
that had this case not been so impartially and energetically 
conducted by the lord chief justice, the claim would have been 
allowed, and the wretched Catholic tenants once more found 
rateable at discretion — " taillables et corveables a merci" as in 
the old times of feudal tyranny. Would not the presence of 
this high magistrate in those wild districts seem to have been 
determined by Providence, in order that a population, barely 
able to provide for the necessaries of life, might be protected 
from excessive oppression? Will quarter sessions, however, 
find always a judge as upright or as independent? Will not 
Scotch breeders continue to find in members of the grand jury 
their natural allies? Who will guarantee against the return 
of cupidity, seconded by arbitrary power, these peasants whom 
their oppressors wish to strip of everything, from their mountain 
pasture grounds to their very character for honesty ; of whom 
they first make beggars, and would then fain make rogues? 
Can it for a moment be supposed that were this simple and 
fundamental principle — " no representation, no tax," — applied 
in these matters, the lawful representatives of this people would 
be as ready as its present masters to overwhelm it with taxes 
and rates, the only escape from which are captivity in work- 

* "I believe as firmly as I do in my own existence that these sheep were 
not maliciously destroyed." 



houses, emigration, or death? Will the stern lesson taught 
the Scotch breeders of Donegal by one of the highest func- 
tionaries of justice in Ireland, will the indignant voice of the 
Presbyterian press of Ulster (a press not to be accused of any 
bias in favour of the Catholic peasantry), for the future pre- 
vent the recurrence of the like malversation? This is doubt- 
less one of the triumphs reserved for the progress of public 
opinion; but once more, so long as the grand jury system 
stands unmodified, so long as exorbitant power shall be exer- 
cised independently of .the ratepayer's vote, so long as the 
members of these fiscal assemblies shall be the privileged elect 
of an agent of the executive power, subject to an illusory 
control, and invested with the right of taxing, at their good 
pleasure, populations to which they are so frequently strangers 
by blood, religion, or political interest, so long will the Irish 
be justified in holding to the trite dictum which, in appreciat- 
ing the management of affairs makes the expression " Grand 
Jury Job" a synonyme for arbitrariness and malversation. 



From what precedes, it is clear, that, as a fact, political 
prerogatives, and constitutional equality are, in regard to 
large numbers of Irishmen, a dead letter, — a theory without 

During the last five and twenty years, however, a step has 
been made in the right direction; and the painful duty of 
pointing out abuses, and laying our hand upon injustice, 
makes the task of doing homage to some progress all the 
more grateful. 

A quarter of a century ago, notwithstanding the Emanci- 
pation Bill, Catholics, but little favoured in political, were 
scarcely more so in municipal life. As early as 1793, a law 
had, indeed, thrown open to Catholics the corporations, and 
allowed them to form part of the body of freemen "burgesses." In 
1829, the Emancipation Act had further declared them eligible 
to all civil and judicial employments within reach of these 
corporations. But the spirit of exclusiveness, more vigorous 
than the laws which had engendered it, remained rooted in 
minds after it had disappeared from the code, and raised 
against Catholic citizens offensive barriers. In 1839, ten 
years after the Emancipation Act, the body of Dublin burgesses 



still refused to open its ranks to Catholics ; and the corpora- 
tion of a town, more than half of whose population is Catholic, 
did not count a single member of that religion in its ranks.* 

At this period, Ireland numbered seventy-one corporate 
towns, with a population of 894,503. The municipal reform, 
introduced into England in 1836, and five years later into 
Ireland, reduced the number of corporations in the latter 
country to eleven ;f and, in the majority of towns, invested 
with the prerogatives of the corporation commissioners elected 
by the burgesses. 

Since that time Catholics have won among their fellow 
citizens undoubted influence, productive of very happy results. 
They not only form part of the body of " freemen" burgesses, 
but a certain number of them annually rise to those of the 
municipal dignities, which are elective ; and among the eleven 
mayors in office in 1861, in the corporate towns, six were 
Catholics.! In places where, either according to previous 
agreement, or by free choice, the Catholics, when in a majority 
in the body of freemen, elect Protestants ; this conduct evinces 
a conciliatory spirit in the electors, and an equitable spirit in 
the elected.§ 

Actual equality, civil, and political, so frequently wanting 
in institutions dependant upon the central power, or belonging 
to county administration is then established in the municipal 
institutions. There it is that Catholics, gathered in greater or 
less force, have learned to estimate their strength, and to avail 
themselves of their constitutional rights. 

They are already using them in the peaceful conquest of 
prerogatives and liberties, the value of which ages of depriva- 
tion have taught them. It is only in the towns, however, that 
commercial success, or talent in the liberal professions, has 
counterbalanced the Protestant preponderance, so powerful in 
the country. 

It is easy enough, indeed, to understand how in the midst 

* In Naas, where the Catholics are thirty to one to the Protestants, the 
corporation was exclusively Protestant. — M. de Beaumont, I. p. 290, and 
Appendix, pp. 381, 382. 

t Belfast, Clonmel, Cork, Drogheda, Dublin, Kilkenny, Limerick, London- 
derry, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford. In numbers of other towns the corporation 
system has been superseded by that of Municipal Commissioners, whose powers 
and prerogatives are nearly the same as those of the corporation. 

X In Clonmel, Drogheda, Kilkenny, Limerick, Waterford, and Wexford. 

§ In Dublin, the lord mayor is alternately chosen from among the Catholics 
and the Protestants. In Cork, one of the most Catholic towns in Ireland, a 
Presbyterian, Sir John Arnott, was in 1861 elected for the second time. Sir 
John Arnott's liberal tendencies, his solicitude for the workhouse poor, the 
firmness and equity of his administration sufficiently justify the confidence he 
enjoys. Mr. Maguire, M P., is at present mayor of Cork ; he is author of the 
well-known work, Rome and its Ruler. 



of a peasantry mostly totally uneducated, and almost abso- 
lutely dependant upon their landlord for the prime necessaries 
of life, the Protestant liege lord, whether as a landowner, a 
magistrate, or a juror, — indeed generally in the triple capa- 
city, — enjoys with absolute power an unlimited and uncon- 
trolled authority. 

The rights of property, the prerogatives of justice, the 
influence of administrative action, in a word, that mass of 
privileges, that fusion of powers so carefully and so rightly 
distinguished in the constitutions of free peoples, all conspire 
to make the landlord the successor and heir of those feudal 
barons, who rarely counted but with God and their sword, 
unchecked as they were by charter or constitutional theory 
in the use and abuse of their authority. 

In the towns, on the contrary, things are returning to some- 
thing like a state of equality. The Catholic, successful in 
business, or honoured for his talent, can pit his influence 
against that of the Protestant landowner, magistrate, or juror. 
All-powerful in the country, feudal traditions die out within 
the precincts of the town, and the strides of equality and jus- 
tice in manners score themselves by a corresponding progress 
of equality in institutions. 

This statement is, however, only perfectly true when applied 
to towns of a certain importance, in which Catholics have 
fought their way up to an influence proportioned to their 
numbers. Parishes, in fact, such as in England wield various 
and important powers, have in Ireland been completely 
stripped of all political influence. And since in Ireland the 
mass of the Catholic population is necessarily kept far from 
the towns by the very nature of its labour — an almost exclu- 
sively agricultural one — political life, with the exception of the 
right of voting, may be said to be foreign to the majority of 
the Irish people. 

It may not be useless to state the causes which, whilst the 
English parish is the focus of a multitude of great interests, 
full of life and movement, indeed a kind of free republic,* 
have reduced the Irish parish to insignificance, or rather even 
to absolute nullity. 

In the parish, the public power resides in the " vestry," or 
assembly of ratepayers. 

Theoretically the " vestry '' is empowered to vote the taxes 
destined to meet parish expenses of general interest, whether 
religious or civil, and to elect the parish officers. 

But in the case of all parishes exclusively Catholic, one of 
the most important of these powers has long been completely 

* M, de Beaumont, I., 294. 


withdrawn. The vestries of such parishes have been for- 
bidden to meet for the purpose of managing matters touching 
public worship, and of levyfng the rates necessary for its 
maintenance. This law still exists, and is of itself a proof of 
the importance of those parochial rights, which in theory 
seemed to put the Catholic populations in possession of such 
important material guarantees. 

Another law, more intolerant and more odious, continued 
in force even four years after the passing the Emancipation 
Act; a law, namely, conferring upon the Protestants of a 
parish, however small their number, the exclusive right of 
forming the vestry for all matters touching the Establishment, 
of voting the expenses necessary for the worship, and of pro- 
viding for these expenses, by a rate levied upon all the 
parishioners indiscriminately, This was simply throwing the 
burthen of Protestant worship almost solely upon the Catholics. 

The law of 1833, deprived the Protestants of this exorbitant 
and supremely iniquitous right. But the result of this was to 
take religious interests completely out of the hands of the Irish 
parish. In the " vestry," held every Easter Monday, sums are 
voted for the rearing of foundlings, the burial of paupers, and 
the salaries of the parish officers. In this vestry, too, are 
elected the clerk, the churchwardens, and. the beadle. And 
this is all. Such is, we believe, an exact statement of the poli- 
tical powers belonging to the Irish parish. This is the sphere 
to which its action is confined. It must be admitted that this 
action could scarcely be more narrow. 

The equality said to exist between Catholic and Protestant 
in Ireland is then but too often only an empty sound. How 
many wide differences are to be found in actual life and in the 
daily intercourse of man with man ! How much of the region 
of facts is occupied by the influence of conquest, and sec- 
tarian spirit ! How unequal to-day, in spite of the act of 1829, 
in spite of the visible leaning of the present age towards 
broader justice, is the share of liberty, of guarantees, of 
rights and privileges enjoyed by the ancient vanquished race, 
in comparison with that enjoyed by their conquerors ! 

Ireland, though she bear the name, certainly meets with 
anything but a sisters treatment at the hands of England. 
She is treated as a conquered country.* This fact, we fear, 
we can establish beyond a doubt. To do so, it. will be neces- 

"L'Irlande est traitee en pays conquis; — la liberte religieuse a ete rendue — 
niais la blessure du sentiment national n'a pas gte' cicatrice'e. Si Foppression 
a disparu, il reste les consequences de Foppression. "— M. Jules de Lasteyrie, 
Bevue des Deux Mondes, 1 Aug. 1853, and 15 Dec. 1860. 


sary to refer to the financial relations existing between the two 
countries, and to lay open the exceptional measures which 
England has, in the interests of her dominion and her safety, 
so frequently enforced in Ireland. 



We have seen, in the Historical Introduction, how one of the 
consequences to Ireland of the Union was the quadrupling 
of her public debt in the short space of fifteen years ;* and how 
this insolvency, forced upon her, ended in the union of her 
exchequer with that of Great. Britain.! 

From that time, Ireland has in no wise seen how her revenue 
has been expended : a grievance, of which the writers of the 
national party very rightly complained. The representatives 
of Ireland in parliament are too few to exercise a decisive 
influence upon the budget-vote. She does not keep her own 
accounts. The books, as well as the treasury, are kept by 
England, whose financial politicians are marvellously skilled 
in the art of book-keeping, and in the delicate operations of 
commerce and banking. 

At the very moment the Union was effected (itself a piece 
of disgraceful traffic, as we have seen|), England, not content 
with purchasing Ireland, contrived to make her pay personally 
for the annihilation of the last vestige of her nationality. 
The three millions sterling, which bought the consciences and 
the votes of the Dublin parliament, were actually put down to 
the account of Ireland. 

Without any decisive influence upon the vote for the 
general budget, § without any material control over the 
outlay of her taxes, Ireland yearly sees the surplus of her 

* From twenty-eight millions sterling, in 1801, to one hundred and twelve 
millions sterling, in 1816. 

T This union of the exchequer, was in open violation of article VII. of 
the Treaty of Union. 

% " The Union," said the Times, in the beginning of December, 1860, 
" was accomplished by the very basest of means." 

§ We have already mentioned the fact, that when it was proposed to subject 
Ireland to the Income Tax, out of one hundred and five Irish members seventy- 
two voted against the measure. It was carried by the Anglo-Scotch majority 
of the House. The Income Tax in Ireland, amounted in 1859, to £718,368. — 
Thorn's Off. Directory, p. 95. 


receipts over her expenditure applied to objects exclusively 
English in interest, so that she bears more than her propor- 
tional share of the burthens of the empire, and receives less 
from the exchequer, than she pays into it. 

We are aware, that on this point we are in conflict with 
the English school, whose favourite theme, in the matter of 
financial administration, is, that in point of taxes, Ireland is 
the privileged of the two countries ; since she pays no land-tax, 
except for local expenses, and is not subject to all the indirect 
taxes which weigh upon England.* 

No profound knowledge of political economy is, however, 
necessary to bring one to the conclusion, that the power of 
supporting taxes is proportioned both to the productive power, 
and to the development of the agricultural, manufacturing, 
and commercial resources of a country. The alleged privilege 
of Ireland might, when tested by this principle, be said to 
mask an inequality highly disadvantageous to her. For, if 
with the united resources, every day increasing, of her com- 
merce and manufactures, England produces as ten, and pays 
taxes as seven, — whilst Ireland's taxation being only as five, 
it is true, is met, however, by a productive power of only 
six, (since her manufactures are scarcely appreciable, her 
agriculture very backward, and her commerce far below that 
of Great Britain,) — it is easy to see that her share of the 
burthens, in proportion to her wealth, is far greater than that 
of England. 

When, moreover, one wishes to get a just and complete 
notion of taxation, besides asking to what it amounts one must 
ask what benefit is derived from it. England is heavily taxed, 
more heavily than Ireland: granted. She profits, however, 
by all she pays. There is not one financial sacrifice imposed 
upon her citizens unrepresented by a corresponding increase 
of power, influence, and splendour in the country. 

Ireland, on the other hand, which pays more than is warranted 
by the state of her manufacturing and agricultural resources, 
complains that year after year the surplus of the taxes handed 
over to the exchequer is employed in expenses by which she 
benefits but very indirectly, or not at all. How often, for 
instance, have not Irish members called the attention of parlia- 
ment to the neglect of Ireland's many ports, naturally adapted, 
as they are, to all the requirements of the royal and merchant 
navies, whilst not a session passes in which considerable sums 
are not reserved, by British foresight, for the enlargement, 

* If Ireland has managed to get rid of certain indirect taxes, all reason for 
which existed in England alone, surely that instead of being a privilege is but 
the application of the simplest equity. 



fortification, or simple embellishment of English ports, in order 
the more surely to draw into them the commerce of the two 
hemispheres. And when we reflect upon the terrible crisis 
through which Ireland has passed, although we honor, as is 
just, the generous efforts made in her behalf by English charity, 
we cannot but believe that had Ireland had the management 
of her own finances, she would have been able to turn them to 
better account in the days of her misfortune. 

A parliamentary document, laid before the house in 1842, 
showed the balance of accounts between the two countries for 
the nine years preceding (1833-1842). 

Ireland had sent over to England £6,355,000, and had 
received from her £80,000. 

Whence it is clear that the balance in favour of England, 
and against Ireland, was £6,275,000, making an average of 
£700,000 yearly * 

According to the official documents of 1859, the sum 
annually paid by Ireland into the treasury, amounts to over 
£7,000,000 :f she is set down as costing to the amount of 
^6,000,000 of the public expenses. There remains, conse- 
quently, a surplus of £1,000,000 in England's favour, so that, 
to speak truly, it is Ireland who assists England, or perhaps 
better, England who taxes Ireland for works and undertakings 
of purely English interest.^ 

This is what Irish economists, in figurative language, but 
too rightly term the permanent system of drainage. Indeed 
the simple fact is, that this amount is nothing but Ireland's 
natural resources, poured out through every species of channel, 
and flowing into the great reservoir of British prosperity. 

Undoubtedly, in consequence of the union, Ireland shares 
in all the maritime, military, colonial, manufacturing, and 
political greatness of the British empire ; nevertheless, what 
proves that this union is more apparent than real, compulsory 
rather than voluntary, is the fact that Ireland has not yet 

* Pari. Papers, No. 305, Sep. of 1842, quoted by Mr. Smith O'Brien in his 
speech of July 4th, 1843. — Hansard's Pari. Debates. 

+ The exact figure is £7,087,961.— Thorn's Off Dir. p. 92. 

J In order to avoid the shadow of exaggeration, we have quoted the most 
moderate estimates. How much greater would not the disproportion between 
the amount of taxes paid, and the benefits resulting from them appear, were we 
to add to the taxes paid directly into the royal treasury by Ireland — 1st. The 
amount of duty paid in England upon articles which go over to the Irish market, 
the burthen of which taxes is evidently borne by Ireland alone. 2nd. The 
large incomes of Irish absentee landlords, spent almost totally out of the country 
which furnishes them, and which derives no benefit from them. "We are very 
much within the truth when we estimate at £4,000,000 the united amount 
of these two indirect taxes. (Some authors estimate the former at £3,000,000, 
and the latter at £5,000,000 ; total, 8,000,000.) 


made up her mind to pay for this glory at the required rate. 
What province in France, forsooth, would grudge the expenses 
necessary for the prosecution of a work of national interest, 
even though that province should be benefitted but very indi- 
rectly by it? The noble words of the Apostle may well be 
applied to this living body, whose members are united by the 
closest sympathy. In this body there is " no schism, but the 
members are mutually careful one for another; and if one 
member suffer anything, all the members suffer with it, or if 
one member glory, all the members rejoice with it."* 

Yes, all these provinces love one another, and " feel 
themselves answerable for one another. The Gascon interests 
himself about the Fleming; the Burgundian rejoices or suffers 
with the Pyrenean provinces ; the Breton, by the side of the 
ocean, feels the blows dealt to France upon the Rhine."f 

Consequently, it would be an insult to one of these pro- 
vinces to deem it necessary to prove to her that she receives 
from the public resources exactly that benefit to which her 
share of the burthens entitles her. She knows and feels that 
she shares in whatever is done for the power or glory of her 
sisters. Family feeling here outweighs all questions of private 

The case is very different between England and Ireland. 
The former would never consent to bear alone the weight of 
an outlay of exclusively Irish interest. The latter does not 
deem herself compensated for her burthens by the increased 
strength or greatness which works carried out at Portsmouth 
or Liverpool give to the British empire, nor by the establish- 
ment of new factories in India or China. On both sides the 
spirit of exclusive nationality betrays itself in spite of truce 
and treaty. This spirit not only keeps the two peoples apart, 
it draws a line more marked still between individuals ; an 
Englishman would feel humiliated at being called an Irishman, 
one of that nation which he is used to see treated in the 
London papers, as a nation of paupers and bigots. To call an 
Irishman an Englishman would be to offer him a mortal insult : 
you would see him gather himself proudly up, and add to the 
cry of Erin-go-Bragh I a curse upon the rapacious and odious 

We may be allowed to wish for the day when this spirit of 

* " Ut non sit schisma in corpore, sed idipsum pro invicem sollicita sint 
membra. Et si quid patitur unum membrum, compatiuntur omnia membra ; 
sive gloriatur unum membrum, conguadent omnia membra." — 1 Cor. xii. 
25, 26. 

t Michelet ; Hist, de France, ii. p, 128. 

J " Saxon :" a name often given to Englishmen by the Irish. 



mutual antipathy, this vigorous and lamentable national hatred, 
shall have waned before the influence of true charity. We 
may add, that the English could largely contribute to the 
fulfilment of this wish. At the present moment, however, 
sixty years after the union of the two parliaments, and forty- 
five since the financial union which was the corollary of the 
former, the mutual feeling resulting from that union is, 
according to the English papers themselves, one of constant 

Not only is nothing done by the Protestant press, official or 
semi-official, towards reducing that irritation, but not a single 
opportunity is lost of aggravating it. To-day the Irish volun- 
teers to Perugia and Castelfidardo are called cowardly merce- 
naries, and heartless buccaneers: to-morrow the sayings or 
doings of one of the most venerable prelates of the Irish 
hierarchy are the subject of the frantic declamation of tory or 
orange journalists:* every day adds to the catalogue of fresh 
provocations, fresh irony, fresh insults: and, as on its side, 
the Irish press enjoys a latitude of expression of which it 
avails itself with both skill and energy, the daily war of the 
papers threatens to foment indefinitely the profound division 
of minds and hearts, already existing.j- 

It would not, then, be asking too much, to require for Ire- 
land the benefit of an exact parallelism between the taxes paid 
and the purposes to which they are turned. On these condi- 
tions, she would probably put up more patiently with the boast 
made for her of her financial privileges, and would bring herself 
more easily to the enjoyment of what the Times gravely calls, 
" the blessings of the British constitution .''| 

* [A characteristic instance is given, in the Appendix to the French Edition, 
in an article of the Irish Times of 13 Oct., I860.] 

+ "The tone adopted by the English towards the Irish is always execrable, 
aud the Irish answer contempt by threats." (M. J. de Lasteyrie, Revue des 
Deux Mondes. Dec. 15, 1860.) " People imagine that an insult loses its sting 
when flung at a whole nation. This is a pure mistake. This is the really 
odious conduct of England towards Ireland. She has literally overwhelmed 
her with insults, of which a solitary one would suffice to throw two nations 
into a struggle in which they would butcher one another to the last man. " — 
Emile Montegut, Revue des Deux Mondes. June 1, 1855. 

J " We exhort the Irish to reflect on all the blessings they enjoy at home" [!]. — 
Times, June, 1860. 




It remains to speak of those exceptional measures which 
have so often modified in Ireland the usual operation of the 
constitution, and many of which are still in force. This 
inquiry will, we trust, convince the most prejudiced minds, 
and justify the persistence with which that country, still so far 
from being assimilated to the British Empire, calls for radical 

Liberty in the matter of public meetings is enjoyed by 
Ireland and England ; but the latter has a privilege of which 
an act of the thirty-third year of George III. deprived Ireland; 
namely, that of deputing representatives to act in the 
name of the body at meetings held in different parts of the 
country. This was made punishable by imprisonment and 
fine. In England even in times of great popular commotion, — 
as in 1848, in the midst of the Chartist agitation, — the govern- 
ment did not think itself powerful enough to deprive the 
people of a right so easily abused, and the promptings of 
political prudence yielded to the prerogatives of the nation. 
This 'same prudence judged very differently of the situation of 
Ireland, and forbade there under the heaviest penalties what 
could not be forbidden at home. That in times of popular 
commotion and irritation her governors, in not giving her the 
benefit of their right, only followed the dictates of wisdom and 
common sense, we are certainly disposed to admit. No one 
can expect the conqueror to give to the conquered the means 
of gaining, his independence. Looking at this question from 
an English point of view, George lll.'s ministers did well. 
If, however, we grant thus much, let it be honestly acknow- 
ledged that there are liberties in England to which Ireland is 
a stranger, by virtue of positive exceptions. 

There is another exception, founded on the same reasons, 
establishing a serious difference between the English and Irish 

The English are free to keep fire-arms, and to use them ; to 
form volunteer companies, and to give and receive lessons in 
military drill. All this is denied to Ireland. A long series of 
acts of parliament limits and regulates, with special care, the 


conditions under which fire-arms may be kept. To detail all 
these acts would be a tiresome and thankless task; besides, 
with few unimportant- modifications, they are nothing but a 
repetition one of the other.* 

The following are the conditions prescribed by one of these 
bills (that of 1843) in order to obtain a licence to keep and 
use fire-arms : — 

1. To have a certificate from two proprietors paying at least 
£20 poor-rate. 

2. To produce this certificate before the justices of the peace 
in order to obtain their licence. 

3. This licence obtained, to get the arms registered and 
branded by the police. 

4. It is forbidden to part with or sell these arms, or to acquire 
new ones even by will or descent, without repeating the before- 
mentioned formalities. 

Other clauses contained the punishment awarded to trans- 
gressors of these laws. 

To give an inexact answer to a policeman questioning you 
concerning your having arms, or as to any circumstances con- 
nected with such fact, was an offence open to certain punish- 

To be possessed of a lance or a pike, or any other instrument 
capable of being turned to the same purpose, was a crime 
punishable with seven years' transportation. 

The police could search any house, pointed out to them as 
suspected by a magistrate, at any hour of the day or night. 

Smiths were subject to all these laws, both with respect to 
the making and keeping of any such arms. 

By way of climax : if arms were found in a house or any of 
its dependencies, outhouses, poultry yard, &c, the occupant 
was to be found guilty, unless he could prove they were there 
without his knowledge — the most elementary principles of law 
current among civilized nations being reversed in this case. 

A very ingenious parallel has been drawn between these 
laws and those dictated by the political shrewdness of the 
Philistines, when masters of Israel. "Now, there was no 
smith to be found in all the land of Israel ; for the Philistines 
had taken this precaution, lest the Hebrews should make them 
swords or spears. So all Israel went down to the Philistines 
to sharpen every man his ploughshare, and his spade, and his 
axe, and his rake. So that their shares, and their spades, and 

* This is what was said by Lord Elliott in the House of Commons when he 
brought in the bill of 1843 : " It was substantially similar to what had been the 
law in Ireland for half a century." — Session of 19th June, 1843. 


their forks, and their axes were blunt, even to the goad, which 
was to be mended."* 

This famous Arms Bill of 1843 was all that Sir Robert Peel's 
cabinet did to conciliate Ireland. At the very same time, 
nearly in the same month, General Sir Charles Napier was 
winning, on the banks of the Indus, the decisive battle of 
Meanee, in which the Seiks, to the number of 25,000, were 
defeated by 3,400 men, of which body only 400 were Europ- 
eans ; and these were all of an Irish Tipperary regiment. — 
*' Beholding them from afar off, sustaining, singlehanded, all 
the brunt of battle — struggling, with unshaken gallantry, 
against countless hordes — then, shortly after, dashing forward, 
overturning everything, scattering everything before them, he 
could not restrain himself from crying out : * Magnificent 
Tipperary f "f 

Exploits like these, and countless others, which will immor- 
talize the name and history of the Irish Brigade, were precisely 
such as to give rise to the rigorous measures brought forward 
by the minister of the crown. How could they allow men so 
brave to keep arms when in a state of such discontent? The 
only alternative was evidently either to do away with the 
causes of that discontent, and allow them the use of arms, or 
to continue all their grievances, and punish the unlicensed 
keeping of arms with the severest penalties : and as the Eng- 
lish government could not make up its mind to redress these 
grievances, it was necessary to treat Ireland with exceptional 
severity, and give her a regime which makes her position with 
regard to England so humiliating. 

Perhaps the rigour of these measures might be qualified by 
the consideration of the great popular excitement during the 
repeal year, and, later on, during the stormy days of 1848. 
For the last twelve years, however, Ireland is quiet, if not 
satisfied ; the Liberator is no more, John Mitchel and his friends 
are scattered in exile: why, then, is Ireland still excluded from 
the pale of common law? why is she still excluded from a 
privilege which is the ground of a just national pride in Eng- 
lishmen, as often as the phantom of a foreign invasion rises 
up before them? 

We happened to arrive in London in 1860, on the very day 

* Porro faber ferrarious non inveniebatur in omni terra Israel. Caverant enim 
Philisthiiin, ne forte f aoerent Hebreei gladium ant lanceam. Descendebat ergo 
omnis Israel ad Philistiim, ut exacneret unusquisque vornerem suum, et ligonem, 
et securim, et sarculum. Retusae itaque erant acies vornerum, et ligonnm, et 
tridentum, et securium, usque ad stimulnm corrigendum. — 1 Reg. xiii. 19-21. 

*t* The Lord Bishop of Orleans' Sermon, at Saint Roch. for the starving Irish • 
29 March, 1861 ; p. 14. 



when a grand review of volunteers was being held in Hyde 
Park ; all the men marched in good order, in the picturesque 
variety of their uniforms; all were animated with one feelino-, 
and flattered in their warlike hopes by the confident appeal 
which the country had made to them. One could understand, 
one could see how much heart, devotedness, and patriotism 
existed in this impromptu army; and we were not astonished 
at the pride with which a few days afterwards the prime 
minister spoke, in our hearing, of this generous effort made by 
the nation in presence of a very chimerical danger. 

Shortly afterwards the same scenes took place at Edinburgh, 
whither the queen and royal family repaired from Balmoral 
to witness a grand review of the Scotch " Rifle Volunteers ;" 
and it must certainly have been a welcome sight to the 
sovereign of the United Kingdom, to behold the old feudal 
customs reviving under modern forms, the appeal to the moun- 
tain clans responded to, and that bold army marching past to 
the sound of the Scotch pipe, under their ancient banners. 

Why has the country which has given to England generals 
like Wellington, Gough, Keane, the two Lawrences, Pottin- 
ger, Gillespie, Napier, and so many other valiant soldiers of 
the Indian army, been excluded from this great military and 
national demonstration? Why has the Phoenix Park not seen 
like those of London and Edinhur^^^baftalions of Irish volun- 
teers, arming like the others, for the defence of the common 
country, and displaying (to the tune of St. Patrick's Day) those 
military qualities with which the Irish nation has been so 
visibly gifted? Who does not know that the children of Erin 
have proved their prowess on all fields of battle? Who knows 
not that every banner entrusted to their hands has received an 
additional halo of glory ; the lilied standard of Louis XV. at 
Fontenoy,* the Spanish banner at Tetuan and Tangier, our 
own tricolor oriflamme at Malakoff and Magenta, and still 
more lately the pontifical standard at Spoleto and Ancona? 

It was for a moment believed in Ireland that there would 
be an end to this insulting exclusion. The walls of Dublin 
were covered with bills announcing that the minister of war, 
Mr. Sidney Herbert,f would accept the services of a body of 
volunteers: four hundred men were spoken of as already 
enrolled. The astonishment created by this news was short- 
lived. On the 10th July, a letter from the lord lieutenant 
announced that, " the government was not empowered to frame 

* The expression of George II. is well known, when he learned who conquered 
at Fontenoy: " Cursed be the laws that deprived me of such subjects !" 

t Afterwards Lord Herbert, dying but a few months after his elevation to 
the peerage. 


regulations for the enrolment and organization of Volunteer 
Corps in Ireland .... it was not deemed necessary to alter the 
existing law." 

This refusal was the more wounding, inasmuch as the com- 
mittee, in order not to give a shadow of cause for uneasiness 
to the government, had ruled that the corps should be " exclu- 
sively composed of persons receiving salaries from the crown, 
or holding offices in the public service in Ireland." 

A few days afterwards, one of the most justly esteemed as 
well as most influential Irish members, Mr. William Monsell, 
member" for Limerick, protested against this insulting excep- 
tion in the case of Ireland continued to be treated as a rebel 

What was it but a new and insulting application of the 
formula which figures in the colonization acts of the 16th and 
17th centuries, and to which we referred in our historical intro- 
duction — " No Irish need apply." 

Other measures of the same stamp, establishing between 
England and Ireland a deep inequality, have for the last 
twenty years been frequently either hunted up amongst old 
traditions and acted upon, or carried by the ministers of the 
British crown. It is important to put in its true light the 
consequent contradiction (bearing with it, as it does, a serious 
lesson), that it seems as impossible to govern England without 
being constitutional, as it does to govern Ireland without 
putting the constitution in abeyance by exceptional measures. 

It is often said that the British constitution is based upon 
trial by jury and the Habeas Corpus Act, as upon two firm 
rocks: now we know well enough what becomes of the former 
in Ireland, as often as the ministry thinks it its interest to 
influence the verdict ; and with regard to the second, it is not 
so inviolable but that in all times of trouble, the Irish subjects 
of the crown are deprived of its benefit without the shadow of 
a scruple. Lord John Russell's "liberal" cabinet were author- 
ized by parliament to set it aside in 1848, by a vote which was 
scarcely, if at all, contested; and the government agents were 
empowered to apprehend and imprison any one even suspected 
of complicity in the political agitation. Numerous warrants 
were then issued by the Castle, and arbitrary arrests were 
multiplied in every part of the country suspected of having 
most partizans of the national cause. 

Here, again, it is easy to justify the conduct of the British 
cabinet by state reasons ; but if political wisdom and prudence 

* " It was melancholy to think that while England and Scotland were allowed 
to join in the volunteer movement for the defence of the country, it should be 
considered necessary to prevent the people of Ireland from testifying their 
loyalty and patriotism in the same way (hear !)" — House of Commons, Aug. 10, 




almost necessarily dictate such measures to the depositories of 
the executive power in troubled times, how is it that Ireland 
alone has constantly enjoyed the privilege of such exceptions? 
Why was it not considered imperative to have recourse to them 
in England and Wales during the time of the Chartists' move- 
ment? Or, if we are to acknowledge that the danger incurred 
by the British domination was sufficient to legalize the suspen- 
sion of the working of the Habeas Corpus Act, what must we 
think of a domination which can hold its ground by force 
alone, and of a conquest so unstable, after seven hundred years, 
that it would be morally impossible for it to hold at all, were the 
country perfectly free to act? 

Moreover, whenever state reasons interfere between the 
relations of governors and governed, everything bends under 
the action of their inexorable logic, and no principle, however 
respectable — no pledge, however sacred, — is allowed to inter- 
fere with that action. " The first of all laws," said St. Just, in 
a report of the committee of public safety to the national con- 
vention, " is the preservation of the republic." And for an 
English cabinet, no matter of what party, the first of all laws 
with regard to Ireland is, per fas aid nefas, to maintain English 
rule there. Is it at any time necessary to gag for a moment 
the press, or to violate the secrecy which protects private cor- 
respondence, however repugnant it be to the minister to 
trample on principles for which, were England and not 
Ireland in question, he would lay down his life, — the terrible 
state reason allows no hesitation, and turns into flagrant vio- 
lators of liberty her sincerest and most disinterested friends. 

The English have, then, no right to point to the constitu- 
tional guarantees w T hich they give Ireland in ordinary times, 
since her history plainly shows that they suspend or do away 
with these guarantees whenever there is even a possibility of 
danger to their rule. Thus, as late as 1848, the crown pro- 
posed to parliament a law classing certain mere offences of the 
press with those of High Treason and Felony, so as to make 
them punishable by transportation ! And it was by virtue 
of this law, for the passing of which men of all parties in 
England united, that the principal writers of the national party 
were arraigned, condemned, and punished, as though they had 
been convicted of belonging to ribbon societies, and had 
formed armed plots against the government.* 

If in this circumstance the English cabinet had with it 
public opinion, and that immense strength which the moral 

* Bill of treason- felony law, "for the further security of her Majesty's 
crown;" by which the "writing and printing, or open and. advised speaking" 
of incitements to insurrection in Ireland should be deemed " felony," punish- 
able by transportation. 


support of the right-minded in a great country gives a govern- 
ment, would it not have sufficed to have put in force the ordi- 
nary laws ; and what need was there to enrich the collection of 
Irish bills by a new exceptional measure ? 

As to the opening of letters in the post-office, what English- 
man will consent to believe that this ignoble and unfair 
political measure is used anywhere except in the dominions of 
the Muscovite czar, and that whenever it was supposed to be 
necessary for " state reasons," this outrageous violation of 
natural secrecy has been one of the ordinary weapons of the 
English government in Ireland ? 

In 1844, it chanced to get abroad, that Sir James Graham, 
secretary of state for home affairs, had seized a correspond- 
ence of Mazzini, hy means of which the English government 
informed the king of Naples of a plot about to be executed by 
the brothers Bandiera. Great was the indignation of liberal 
England on learning the account to which this dark and 
treacherous espionage had been turned. A parliamentary 
inquiry was set on foot * and the result was that the public 
emotion immediately subsided. The evil was not so great as 
had at first been supposed; for, with slight exceptions, it had 
been nearly exclusively confined to the administration of the 
Irish post-office only ! 

We have, then, thanks to this inquiry, on the irrefutable 
authority of a parliamentary document, the names of the per- 
sonages who, in the name of the crown, granted warrants for 
the seizure at the post-office, and the opening and copying of 
private letters. 

We must give the list : 

1832. Marquis of Anglesey, Lord Lieutenant. 

1834. Mr. Littleton, Secretary for Ireland. 

Marquis Wellesley, Lord Lieutenant. 

1835. Earl of Mulgrave, Lord Lieutenaut. 

1836. Earl of Mulgrave, Lord Lieutenant. 
1836. Mr. Drummond, Secretary. 

1837- id. id. 

Lord Plunkett (one of the Lords Justices and Member of the 

Privy Council). 
The Protestant Archbishop of Dublin (also one of the Lords 

Justices and Member of Privy Council). 

1838. Lord Morpeth (now Lord Carlisle), Secretary. 

1839. Marquis of Normanby. 

Viscount Ebrington. 

General Sir T. Blakeney, Lord Justice. 

1840. Earl de Grey, Lord Lieutenant. 

1841. Lord Chief Justice Bushe. 

Earl de Grey, Lord Lieutenant. 

1842. id. id. 

Sir E. Sngden, Lord Justice. 

1843. Earl de Grey. 

* Parliam. Papers, Sess. 1845 ; Despatches relating to M. MazzUu ; No. 190. 


Thus, for eleven years, the year 1833 alone excepted, not a 
year passed in which the English cabinet did not issue one or 
more of these warrants. 

Doubtless the lists would be considerably lengthened, were 
an inquiry instituted into the last fifteen years. The experi- 
ence of the past, indeed, absolutely excludes the idea, that in 
the great crises of 1846 and 1847, and after the insurrectional 
movement in 1848, this convenient system of discovering 
not only the movements but even the secret thoughts of the 
citizens was not much more widely adopted. 

Our expose of the system of exceptional measures derogatory 
to the general principles of the constitution would be incom- 
plete did we neglect to notice the coercion bills; a kind of 
martial law which is dealt out to Ireland by parliament for 
limited periods, and which invest the lord lieutenant with 
extraordinary powers, greater even than those enjoyed by the 
crown in England.* 

No less than thirty-four coercion acts have been passed since 
the beginning of this century. Here are a few articles of the 
law laid on the table of the house in 1846, at the beginning of 
the famine, by Sir James Graham.f 

The contents of this bill had force of law in the whole 
country, or district, proclaimed by the lord lieutenant; i.e., 
where he suspended the ordinary course of the constitution. 

Every inhabitant of a proclaimed district found abroad an 
hour after sunset might be imprisoned, and kept in custody till 
his trial. 

Any one convicted of the above offence was liable[to Sf fifteen 
years' transportation, unless he proved that he was abroad upon 
business allowed by the law. 

The police might enter any house from one hour after sunset, 
until after sunrise next morning. 

In case of murder, pecuniary compensation was to be made 
to the relatives of the deceased: for this purpose a tax was 
levied upon the inhabitants of the locality. The police might 
distrain for payment. 

The law protected with a bill of indemnity whoever acted 
in virtue of this provision. 

Would not many of these articles seem to have been taken 
literally from the ancient Saxon laws of Ethelred and Ina ? 
It is to be remarked, however, that in these barbarous codes 

* The only difference is that the crown is irresponsible "and inviolable, but 
the lord lieutenant of Ireland is obliged to answer to parliament for the 
measures he has taken. 

t Some amendments were introduced in the course of the discussion. (Ray's 
Report on Irish Coercion Bills, p. 40 and 65.) 


of the sixth and seventh centuries, it is the murderer who pays 
the " wehrgeld" to expiate his crime, and to requite the rela- 
tions of the victim ; but nowhere do we read that the inhabitants 
of a village, in which murder had been committed, were held 
responsible for it, and fell under the rigour of the law. 

This bill, brought in by the tories, met with the stoutest 
opposition from the whigs. " It is full time," was the noble 
language of the chiefs of the latter party, and particularly of 
Lord John Russell, and Earl Grey; "it is time to have done 
with coercion ; Ireland has been misgoverned : there have been 
too many arms' acts and curfew acts : it is justice that is wanted 
now." It was during this debate (March, 1846) that Lord 
Grey reviewed the history of all the martial laws and excep- 
tional measures in force in Ireland from the time of the Union ; 
reminding the house: how, in 1800, Habeas Corpus had been 
suspended under the action of a law, " for the suppression of 
the rebellion," — how that law had been put into force both in 
1801, and again in 1804, — how it had been superseded in 1807 
by the "insurrection act," in force until 1810, — how, revived 
in 1814, it had been enforced during the years 1815, 1816, 
1817, — how, renewed in 1822, and sanctioned successively by 
the parliaments of 1823, 1824, and 1825, it had, with only 
some slight modifications, been enforced in 1833 and 1834, and 
had ceased only in 1839.* 

" Why not strike at the root of the evil," said the illustrious 
orator, " by reforming the social condition of the people?" 

In the House of Commons, Lord John Russell was neither 
less explicit nor less energetic in his speech against the tory 

Despite all this opposition, the bill passed. Some months 
later the whigs were in power with Lord John Russell at their 
head ; and at the very outset of the session they brought for- 
ward a new coercion bill, as much like the others, it was 
observed, as the carabine of one constable is like the carabine 
of another. The time was past for upholding in both houses 
"liberal" maxims, and for invoking justice instead of violence. 
Merciless state logic, and the necessity of holding at whatever 
price the fruits of an unstable conquest, prevented the whigs 
from respecting solemn engagements, undertaken before the 
country, and forced upon them the humiliation of publicly 
eating their own words, and of advocating those very excep- 
tional measures to which they had shortly before offered such 
noisy opposition. 

The coercion bill of 1848 was renewed in 1849, and again 

* Earl Grey ; House of Lords ; March 23, 1846. 


in 1850 ; but in the latter year it appeared under a new name — 
crime and outrage act ; and under this title it was prolonged, 
first for two years (1850-52) ; subsequently for two years 
more (1852-54), and again for another year (1854-55). 

In 1856 the principal clauses of the " Crime and Outrage 
Act" were embodied in one bearing a less offensive title, and 
more in accordance with the demands of public opinion, unfa- 
vourable as that opinion is to the maintenance of exceptional 
laws. It was called " An Act for the better Preservation of 
the Peace in Ireland."* 

Thus from the time when union was officially proclaimed 
between countries hitherto estranged by political as well as by 
religious animosity, Ireland has been subject to one contin- 
uous regime of outlawry. 

In 1860, the situation of Ireland having excited upon the 
continent, and in France particularly, the keenest interest and 
sympathy, official speeches, both in parliament and in political 
meetings, took a new tone in her regard — a tone assumed for 
the purpose of at once discrediting and contradicting the 
views put forth by what the Times was pleased to call, in its 
usual brutal fashion, the utter ignorance and bad faith of 
French scribblers on the Irish question.f 

Whenever, during the session of 1860, Irish members put 
questions to the cabinet, or endeavoured to get for their 
country any measures alike equitable and reparatory, the 
uniform answer of ministers was : Ireland wants nothing, she 
is doing well, very well — she is in a peaceful and prosperous 

From these reiterated declarations, binding as they did the 
government, since they were a kind of answer to the con- 
tinental advocates of Ireland, one might have supposed that 
the reign of exceptional laws would not outlive two-thirds of 
the nineteenth century, and that as the end contemplated in 
the " act for the preservation of the peace" had been attained, 
Ireland would again enjoy the benefit of common law. 

Such a return to a normal state of things would have been 
but common justice, since the reports of the circuit judges 
testified to a marked decrease in the amount of crime against 
persons and property, and to the fact that in some counties 
there were no serious cases for trial at all.$ 

* Passed for two years (1858-1858), and subsequently for two other years 
more (1858-1860); since then again renewed, and even now (1862) in force. 

t Several articles of the Times, in June, apropos of the excellent brochure 
by Mr. H. Marie Martin, upon the Irish Question. 

% County Wicklow.— Spring Assizes, I860.— Baron Greene, at that time 
second judge of the Court of Exchequer, to the grand jury :— " The offences on 



This state of things did not prevent Mr. Card well, secretary 
for Ireland, and Mr. Deasy, attorney-general, from proposing, 
on the 12th of July, 1860, the first reading of a new bill, 
prolonging the provisions of the " Peace Preservation Act 1 ' for 
two years more (1860-1862). 

Notwithstanding the late hour of the night, and the fact of 

the calendar are neither serious nor numerous ; the diminution of crime was 

County Louth. — Mr. Justice Ball congratulates the jury upon the fact of 
the calendar containing but a few slight offences. 

County Leitrim (generally notorious as being a hot-bed of BAbbonism). — 
Baron Fitzgerald (Court of Exchequer) : — "Gentlemen of the grand jury, the 
state of the county is faithfully shown by the assize calendar, on which there 
has been but one serious case, and that several years ago." 

Counties Limerick, Wexford, Armagh, Sligo, and Longford.— The 
same judicial testimony. 

County Carlow. — The Lord Chief Justice Lefroy (Court of Queen's Bench), 
is " glad to be able to say, that for the last six and twenty years never have 
there been fewer prisoners." 

The county in which the calendar was heaviest this session was King's 
County, in which there had been two attempts at murder, and four attempts 
at burglary. 

During the summer assizes, the juries of the different counties were congra- 
tulated in the same manner by the circuit judges. 

In the County Roscommon the whole business of the assizes was despatched 
in four hours. 

In the County Meath there was one charge of murder ; nevertheless, the Lord 
Chief Justice rejoiced in the fact that the county presented no crime of an 
agrarian character. "It was perfectly free from agrarian crime, either a 
Whiteboy offence or an agrarian outrage. 

At the Limerick city assizes, Judge Hayes (Court of Queen's Bench), is 
informed by the crown clerk that "there was no criminal business to be dis- 
posed of, and immediately after this announcement the sheriff presented Mr. 
Hayes, according to the touching custom, with a pair of white gloves." 

In the King's County, the most heavily charged at the preceding sessions, 
Judge Keogh congratulates the jury that no serious crime had been committed 
since the last assizes. 

The Official Criminal Statistics confirm this testimony in the most signal 

In 1850 condemnations were in the proportion of one to every 477 inhabit- 
ants ; in 1854, one to 920; in 1859, only one to 1,930.— (Thorn's Off. Direct. 
1861, p. 707.) Nothing can be more eloquent than the testimony of such 
figures to the rapid progress of morality in Ireland during the last nine years. 

This result becomes more striking, and acquires more importance when we 
compare the criminal statistics of England with those of Ireland during the 
year 1859. 

Whilst, in fact, there was in Ireland only one condemnation to every 1,930 
inhabitants, iu England there was one to every 1,183 (population 19,745,000, 
condemnations 16,674). During this single year, moreover, England witnessed 
nine executions, in Ireland there was not a single one. — Thorn's Off. Direct. 
1861, p. 126. 

We have quoted above the testimony all but unanimous to the peacefulness of 
Ireland by the circuit judges. During the same session, an English judge, 
upon the opening of the Liverpool assizes, was able to say, in the accents of 
sad truth — "With the single exception of treason, the calendar enjoys the 
unenviable distinction of embracing every crime under heaven which can 
render man obnoxious to the laws of England." — Baron Martin's charge when 
opening the summer assizes at Liverpool. 


only seventy-two members being present, of whom a few were 
Irish members,* this motion gave rise to a very warm debate. 
" Is not the time come," asked Lord Fermoy, " to put an end to 
an exceptional state of things, which is nothing less than a 
suspension of the constitution for Ireland? Are England and 
Ireland, then, to be ever governed on the same principles?" 

" This measure," said Mr. Brady, member for Leitrim, " is 
not only useless, but it will be regarded by the Irish nation as 
an insult and a grievous wrong." 

Other members (Messrs. O'Brien, Scully, Hennessy, Butt, 
Blake, and Sullivan) spoke in a similar sense : " What an out- 
rage to Ireland," said the latter, " to answer by martial law the 
cries of distress coming from the famished provinces of the 

When called upon to state the reasons for which govern- 
ment thought a prolongation of exceptional rule in Ireland 
necessary, Mr. Cardwell alleged a murder committed in the 
county Mayo. " Is it not supremely unreasonable and unjust," 
replied Mr. Maguire, member for DungarVan, " to put a whole 
country into the pillory, because a solitary crime has been com- 
mitted there? Do not official statistics prove that during the 
last three years the comparative amount of crime has been 
considerably greater in England than in Ireland? Are the 
ordinary laws, and an army of twelve thousand police insuffi- 
cient to maintain order and the public peace? If the govern- 
ment be so solicitous for Ireland, why does it not give proof of 
that solicitude bv favouring measures for the amelioration of 
her social condition ? If government wish to act vigorously, 
why does it not repress the insulting provocations, and violent 
proceedings of the orange lodges with regard to the peaceful 
Catholic population? Would not that be better than to pro- 
pose a bill, the very introduction of which brands with infamy 
the whole of Ireland?" 

These last words were loudly applauded. Lord Palmerston, 
however, supported Mr. Card well's motion with a persistence 
and energy indicative of the great importance attached by the 
cabinet to the adoption of this measure. 

In vain did Irish members present prolong the contest until 
nearly four in the morning. The first reading was carried by 
a majority of fifty-three to fifteen. 

The discussion of this bill was again taken up during the 

* See what we have said above touching the uniformly unfavourable, circum- 
stances in which Irish affairs are submitted to the consideration of the house. — 
Page 18. 

+ A partial famine had, during the spring of 1S60, reduced to cruel suffering 
many districts of the counties of Kerry and Mayo, particularly at Belmuhet, 
in the barony of Erris. 



month of August. In spite of the continued opposition of the 
Irish representation, unanimous as it was in protesting that the 
country was calm, and the public peace sufficiently insured by 
ordinary law, the " Peace Preservation Act" was passed by 
parliament; so that sixty-one years after the Union Ireland 
has not yet begun to be put on a footing of equality with 
England. She is uniformly treated either as a rebel or as a 
suspected country ; one which has not shown itself worthy of 
the privileges of liberty; a country in which order can be 
upheld solely by force ; one for the peace of which reliance 
can be placed upon exceptional laws alone. * 

The conquest of Ireland was begun in the twelfth century. 
It would seem that to-day even that conquest is not definitely 
accomplished, and that the victor fears that, at any moment, 
she may slip from his grasp. Hence that system of distrust 
and legal precaution. Hence those measures subversive of 
the general principles of the British constitution. Hence that 
contempt of common right ; hence, in fine, the maintenance of 
a universally visible inequality : an inequality in the sharing 
of public functions, in that of parliamentary rights, in the 
administration of justice, in the system of taxation, and in that 
reign of exceptional legislation which brands a whole people 
with suspicion, and perpetually thrusts upon it the fact of its 
being a vanquished nation. 

The saddest grievance of Ireland is not, however, perhaps 
to be looked for among questions of a political or administra- 
tive character. That country knows other sources of suffering, 
deeper since they go to the very basis of social life ; more 
formidable, too, since legislation is powerless against them, 
and since the good- will even of her governors, but too often 
quails before the might of ineradicable prejudice. 

Among these questions of a different order, and, perhaps, 
in the first place among them is, that of landed property, and of 
the peculiar conditions attaching to its possession in Ireland. 

* Since the passing of the "Peace Preservation Act," the state of Ireland 
has not ceased to justify the energetic terms in which this measure was 
repudiated by her representatives. The assizes of 1861, like those of 1880, 
were but very slightly charged with crime. At Belfast, during the month of 
March 1861, Judge Hayes congratulated the jury upon the fact, "that, for 
the first time within the last fifty years, in the whole united kingdom, in 
Ireland the same judge had twice consecutively been presented with the white 
gloves." In the county Louth, Baron Deasy (the same who, as attorney- 
general, carried the last Coercion Act), upon receiving the white gloves from 
the sheriff, reminded the jury, that in 1814 sixty-nine criminal cases had been 
tried in that same county, in which, according to the Calendar of 1861, there was 
not a single culprit in prison. These satisfactory results, are confirmed by the 
Criminal Statistics of 1860, published by Mr. Corry Connellan, Chief Inspector 
of Prisons. The number of offences or attempts against the person, what was 
in 1859, 2242, in 1860 had fallen to 1941. 





Few countries in Europe are as fertile as Ireland. In none is 
agriculture carried on under such grievous conditions. In 
none is the numerous class whose labour, whose sweat, and 
whose whole life is devoted to it, condemned to an exist- 
ence more precarious or more wretched. God seems to 
have done everything calculated to make that island and its 
inhabitants rich and prosperous ; but the act of man has 
paralysed, as far as it could, the beneficence of God. That 
generous soil, eager to reward with usury the toil of the 
husbandman, everywhere bears the visible marks of unnatural 
poverty. The traveller, in crossing those plains, so marvel- 
lously framed in mountains, and watered by so many lakes 
and rivers, is astounded that human industry does not respond, 
to the fertility of the earth, and that the gifts from on high are 
disregarded with such culpable neglect. 

This is the sad contrast we have to explain, by a study of 
the regime to which landed property is subject, and by an 
exposition of the consequences of that regime to the soil, 
to the landlord, and to the cultivator. In other words, this 
inquiry will take in nearly all the relations connecting the 
different classes of society one with another; and nothing, 
indeed, is better calculated to give us an insight into the 
inmost life of the Irish people, and to lay completely open to 
us her manners and civilization, so different from those of the 
continent, and so deserving of the most serious and sympa- 
thetic attention. 


We should understand nothing of the land question, were we 
to examine it independently of its historical antecedents : for, 
a knowledge of its origin helps to explain many of its anoma- 
lies, and foreshadows many of those abuses which must almost 
necessarily have resulted from the manner in which property 
was acquired in Ireland. 

Let the reader, then, call to mind the sad vicissitudes under- 
gone by Ireland during the last three centuries : her territory 
at many different times confiscated wholesale from the ancient 
and lawful owners : the mass of the native, that is, the Catholic 
population, incapacitated by law to possess landed property up 
to the end of the eighteenth century : the whole of the Irish 
soil, from the wars and confiscations of the sixteenth and 
seventeenth century, up to 1782, exclusively, in the hands of 
a Protestant oligarchy, alone authorized to possess: Catholics 
reduced, during this long period, to the condition of labourers 
and agrarian vassals of the creatures of Elizabeth, James I., 
and Cromwell (for such was, less than a century ago, the ter- 
ritorial condition of Ireland); Catholic ownership, in that 
Catholic land, being a novelty of yesterday. 

The old Protestant oligarchy has not yet recovered from its 
surprise at having opened its ranks to these new comers — the 
outlaws and helots of yesterday ; and in spite of the undoubted 
advance made by the latter, especially within the last fifteen 
years, it may yet be affirmed that the Protestants are still lords 
of four-fifths of the soil, and that, with a few exceptions, daily 
increasing in number, the mass of the Catholic population are 
at most but farmers of the land which they till. 

The whole system of landed property in Ireland is still 
based to-day upon the conquests and confiscations of pre- 
ceding ages; and if such be the origin of this system, we 
shall not be astonished at finding in its details deep and yet 
uneffaced traces of the violence and cupidity from which it 

Jn France we have great numbers of small landowners, and 
among them many peasants. In Ireland, on the contrary, the land 
belongs to a real oligarchy. There are no small landowners. 
Estates of a moderate size have but just now been formed. The 
majority of cultivators work for others. The owners of to-day 
were mostly, three centuries ago, foreigners to the soil and 
race of Ireland. Those who to-day have nothing — who are 
but farmers or labourers, are nearly all the descendants of 
those families who lawfully held the land, before the confis- 
cations of Henry VIII. and Elizabeth. 

Thus it is that people have been able to say that in Ireland 
" the conquest was political, religious, and ploutoique (mercen- 



ary) ; and that the conquering nation seized everything — the 
country, power, manufactures, the land and capital."* 

The question of land in Ireland is then inseparably connected 
with the political and religious antecedents which have effected 
it; and in this question, as in those of another order, difference 
of race and creed play a considerable part in the every-day 
dealings between landlord and- tenant, gentry and peasantry. 
These observations will be but too fully justified in the course 
of this inquiry. 



In Ireland there are three kinds of tenure: — 

Tenure for ever. 

Tenure for a certain period, fixed by leases, running from 
twenty-one, to sixty-one, and even to ninety-nine years.f 

Lastly, tenure by the year, or at-will; in which case no 
lease is given, and which is less a tenure than a letting out of 
the land, revocable at the will of the landlord, by means of 
certain inexpensive legal forms. 

Tenure for ever means, in fact, a right of ownership, 
subject to a life annuity: and this tenure is usually found 
among those only who are already owners in virtue of other 

Tenure fixed by leases, frequent enough before the Emanci- 
pation, and at times when landlords had little to fear from 
the influence of Catholic tenants, is decreasing at the present 
day.§ Landlords, who encourage the progress of agriculture, 
and contribute most directly to the well-being and prosperity 
of the agricultural class, by granting long leases, are pointed 
out with praise, as honorable exceptions, unfortunately too 

* Robert- G-uyard, Essai sur Vetat du paupe'risme en France, p. 24. 

"f In another class of contracts it is stipulated, that the lease shall run 
during the lives of three persons named in the deed. On the death of the 
last of these three persons, the lease ends. This is called a "lease for lives." 

X "A person having a lease for ever, is more commonly to be found in the 
elass of landlords than of occupants." — {Digest of Evidence before Lord Devon's 
Commission, Part ii. p. 1121.) ^ This report of the Devon Commission is an 
official document ' of the greatest value, and most unimpeachable authority. 
We shall have occasion to quote it frequently in the course of this inquiry. 

§ This fact has been stated to us by men of all parties in every province of 
Ireland, without exception. 


little imitated. Wherever such leases are held, the peasant 
boldly embarks his labour and his capital, certain to be 
rewarded for the one, and to turn the other to account; and 
whenever a farm is seen in good order, a neatly built house, 
well-kept implements, the best methods of agriculture adopted, 
and the earth testifying by its fruitfulness to the intelligent 
and constant care bestowed upon it, one may safely affirm 
that these things are the results of a long lease. Is it neces- 
sary to add, that the landlord is not the last to profit by a 
tenure, which rapidly increases the intrinsic worth of his 
estate, and adds daily to the original amount of his fortune? 

The ordinary kind of tenure, however, is that known by 
the name of tenancy-at-will ; a kind of tenure which still 
exists, indeed, in England, but is gradually dying out there, 
being replaced by the lease system.* 

We must also take notice, that in England the manifest 
disadvantages of tenancy-at-will, which leaves the tenant 
almost completely at the mercy of the landlord, are in some 
degree lessened by the identity of race and creed, connecting 
the two classes there. We must likewise allow a liberal margin 
for those traditional habits of equity and kindness of which 
the British aristocracy is so justly proud, and which, in public 
morals, are stronger than any laws. According to the letter 
of the law certain abuses might be committed, which are, 
in fact, impossible, because they have against them the might 
of public opinion, a power which, to the honor of the English 
nation, no one braves with impunity. 

In Ireland, on the contrary, notwithstanding the great pro- 
gress made there during the last twenty-five years by this 
same power of public opinion, it is as yet very considerably 
weaker than the prejudices or habits of ages. It alleviates, it 
is true, by its protests, those abuses of authority which this 
mode of tenure makes so easy to landlords. It does not, how- 
ever, prevent them. Has it diminished them either in number 
or intensity ? The question is a very doubtful one. So much 
is incontrovertible, that public opinion sees them in existence 
to-day, and knows that they are continually adding to the 
already too numerous causes of mistrust and ill-feeling which 
in Ireland divide the ancient class of the vanquished from 
those whom the fortune of war has there invested with power 
and wealth ; and it would be impossible to travel a fortnight 
in Ireland without every instant coming in contact, even in 

* M. Leonce de Lavergne : Essai sur VEconomie Bur ale de V Angleterre, 
de VEcosse, et de Plrlande, p. 120. 



the most fertile parts of the country, with one or other of the 
fatal results of this system. 

As there are few countries offering, in their different parts, 
such striking contrasts as does Ireland, so there are few of 
which it is more important to have travelled the whole, if one 
does not wish to come to narrow, incomplete, and consequently 
inexact conclusions. If, for instance, having only travelled 
through Connacht, with its wretched bogs, you had seen 
nothing but those miserable cabins in the midst of them, where 
it is so difficult to believe that human beings can live, Ireland 
would certainly appear to you inferior, as a country, to some 
of the South Sea Islands, in which the savage has at least a 
healthy and spacious hut, and supports his family comfortably 
with what falls to his arrow and his line. Connacht, however, 
and its exceptional wretchedness, is not the whole of Ireland. 
To apply to the whole island what would be strictly true of 
the north-west alone, would be to fall into exaggeration and 
inaccuracy ; it would be much the same kind of thing as to 
judge of France from the single department of the Landes. But 
we must also say, with the Bishop of Orleans, that people must 
not confine themselves to viewing Ireland from the windows 
of a castle, nor be satisfied to judge her, as people are too often 
pleased to do, solely by the cottages surrounding Dublin,* or 
the justly-celebrated landscapes of the Lakes of Killarney.f 

We believe that an infallible means of obtaining an idea of 
this country, alike just and free from every kind of exagger- 
ation, is, to see and note down on the spot the abuses of owner- 
ship and their results in those counties which occupy the mean 
between the exceptional and slightly factitious wealth of 
the suburbs of a great city, and the exceptional misery of a 
region where the land is yet untilled. We repeat, then, that it is 
unnecessary to go very far from Dublin, or to make any long 
excursion into the neighbouring counties (taking, for instance, 
the direction of Cork, and passing through the counties of 
Kildare, King's County, and Tipperary), in order to be able to 
appreciate by its consequences the svstem of Tenancy-at- 

Let us enter upon an examination of this system, in order to 
see in what it consists; what rights it gives the landowner; 
what security it gives the tenant; and, lastly, what is exactly 
the nature of its influence upon agricultural industry, and 
upon the general situation of the country. 

* Sermon of Bishop of Orleans upon Ireland, p. 45. 

f The only part of the island visited by Queen Victoria during her journey 
in August, 1861. 



In the system of tenancy-at-will, which is the mostcommon, 
the following are pretty much the circumstances in which 
and the conditions under which the contract is entered into 
between the rich landlord, or his agent, and the poor peasant, 
who asks for a strip of land to till. 

With very few exceptions the landlord hands over to the 
in-coming tenant nothing but the naked land, without a house, 
without stock, without agricultural implements, without any of 
the materials for working it.* It is the tenant that has him- 
self to find all this. The landlord makes no advance of capital, 
and confines * himself to fixing the rent, and exacting it 
according to the terms of the agreement. 

The acceptance by the tenant of the terms offered (to which 
are usually added many local taxes bearing directly upon occu- 
pation of landj) is generally the sum of the contract between 
him and the landlord. 

The obligations of the former evidently come to very little ; 
indeed is is difficult to see any duties imposed upon him pro- 
portionate to the powers held by him. As for the tenant, 
regularity in paying the rent agreed upon, and the fulfilment 
of the other conditions attached to his holding, are no certain 
guarantee for the future. He is but a tenant-at-will — that is 
to say, that at two fixed epochs in the year, provided he has 
received a notice six months in advance, regularly served upon 
him, he may be evicted and replaced by another, at the mere 
arbitrary will of his landlord. 

Numerous laws have been enacted, during this century, for 
simplifying and shortening the legal proceedings by which 
tenants-at-will may be evicted ; for example, in particular, the 
laws passed in 1816, 1820, and 1836. They have very con- 
siderably increased and strengthened the powers of landlords, 
by extending to rents amounting to £50 those dispositions 
which were previously applicable only to £20 holdings.^ 

* Digest of Evidence, &c, p. 1122. 

t See above, Book i., ch. vi., County Cess. 

X See Acts 56 George III. , cap. lxxxviii. ; George IV., c. xli. ; 6 & 7 
Will. IV., c. lxxv. (Bichino, an English Protestant ; and the English Law 
Magazine of May, 1841.) 


■Nothing better shows the precarious situation in which, this 
system of tenure places the majority of the agricultural *class 
in Ireland, than the custom kept up by a large number of land- 
lords of serving their tenants every six months with a notice 
to quit, reserving to themselves the power of not enforcing it ; 
simply to keep their tenants at their mercy every moment of 
the year. An English commission had already loudly stigma- 
tised, this progfeeding, and had pointed out its deplorable 
consequences to the agricultural future of the country,* But 
in spite of this protest, and the inevitable disadvantages result- 
ing from such a system, this custom is still in force; and 
renting of farms, which of its very nature ought to be one of 
the most stable of contracts, becomes nothing more than a 
short leasehold, the longest term of which is six months.f 

The right of eviction — or, according to the term in vogue in 
Ireland, the right of extermination — has for the last twenty 
years been the cause of the greater part of those abuses, and of 
that misery under which Ireland has been sinking. We shall 
presently see that this right frequently plays a part in the 
relations between landlord and tenant, despite the efforts made, 
even lately, by parliament to afford a certain amount of pro- 
tection to the Irish landholder. 

The general absence of leases, and the consequent uncer- 
tainty of tenure, would of themselves suffice to paralyse all 
agricultural enterprise, and to confine the industry of the cul- 
tivator to a narrow sphere of timid and superficial operations.^ 

* ' ' We have to notice a practice, which prevails in some parts of the country, 
of serving periodically notices to quit upon large numbers of tenants, holding 
from year to year ; not with any fixed intention of proceeding upon such notices, 
but in order to keep up a continual power over the tenant, in case he should 
not pay his rent, or should otherwise misconduct himself, and which may be 
acted upon from caprice, or in case of any offence given by the tenant in some 
matter wholly unconnected with the occupation of his land." — Digest, &c, 
Devon Commission, II. 1136. 

f In order to give an idea of this extremely precarious position, M. de 
Kaumer, a German publicist, endeavours, in an account of a journey made by 
him in Ireland, to make up by a combination of German roots a word exactly 
equivalent to the expression "tenant-at-will." " How shall 1 translate this 
word?" he asks. " Shall I say serfs ? — no ; in feudal times, the condition of 
the serf was to be attached to the soil, and in nowise to be driven off it. Ai 
vassal of those times would be a lord, compared with the tenant- at-will of 
Ireland, -to*whom $&& law affords no protection. Why not call him ' the hunt- 
•off-able?' (weyjagdbare.) There is even here a difference, which lessens the 
analogy; for the game law T s prevent the hunting of hares, stags, and does 
during certain seasons of the year, whilst tenants-at-will are lawful game the 
whole year round. And, if one of them was disposed to defend his farm — 
whilst the fox and badger are supposed to defend their cover— that would be 
termed ' rebellion. ' " 

J " The uncertainty of tenure is constantly referred to as a pressing 
; grievance by all classes of tenants. It is said to paralyse all exertion^an*^ 
place a r fatal impedimenfctin the way of improvement. We have no doubt thaBj 
is the case in many instances." — Digest, &c. ; p. 1122, 


In what undertaking, indeed, of any length, or involving 
any expense, would one be disposed to embark time and 
capital, with the prospect of a possible eviction at the end 
of six months, without even being sure of harvesting the 
wheat which had been sown? 

This uncertainty of yearly tenure is very far from being 
counterbalanced by a moderate rate of rents. Land in Ireland 
is, doubtless, no longer the object of that extravagant compe- 
tition on the part of the poor peasantry which was witnessed 
until within a few years ago. This is owing, in great measure, 
to the excess of the emigration movement during the last 
fifteen years; — numbers of sturdy labourers left and still 
leave every week Dublin, Cork, Galway, and Liverpool, either 
for North America or Australia. But if there are fewer 
farmers to struggle for a strip of land, there is scarcely 
more manufacturing activity than formerly ; and it is still 
true to say the mass of the people have no alternative between 
tilling the land or becoming the prisoners of legal " charity" 
in the workhouses. 

Competition has fallen off. But monopoly is as strong as 
ever. And since tilling is the only way to a livelihood, the 
tenant does not wait to discuss the conditions offered to him. 
It is much less a bargain driven, than a treaty; or, better, a 
capitulation submitted to : hence, in very many cases, the rent 
is out of all reasonable proportion to the real value of the 
land, as it appears by the official register,* and that notwith- 
standing the inadequate resources at the disposal of the tenant 
for the cultivation and improvement of the land rented. It is 
only then by hard work and constant privation that he can at 
all meet his engagements. 

At the same time, therefore, that the absence of a lease 
deprives the tenant of all kind of security, it lays him com- 
pletely open to the arbitrary exactions of the landlord or his 
agent. Consequently, besides the ever-present prospect of 
possible eviction, which has rendered proverbial, among the 
Irish peasantry, the sad saying: " Here to-day, and gone 
to-morrow, "f the tenant is exposed to have his already exorbi- 
tant rent perpetually raised, as well as the burden under which 
he is already giving way. 

The arbitrary raising of rent is to the Irish tenant a perma- 
nent source of indefinite misery, the original amount of the 
rent being frequently more than doubled, and this precisely 
in proportion to the increasing value which his labour gives to 

* Griffith's General Valuation. 

t Letter of Mr. Maguire and the O'Donoghue, M.P.s, to Mr. Card well, Secre- 
tary for Ireland.— {Freeman, 12th November, 1859.) 



the land, and to the increase made by his sufferings and his 
sweat in the fortune of his landlord. 

Spenser, as early as the sixteenth century, pointed out the 
close connexion existing between this indefinite and arbitrary 
raising of rent, and the tenant-at-will system* Where a lease 
is granted, the rent is fixed for a certain number of years, and 
on the renewal of the lease is only raised in proportion to the 
supposed increase in the value of the land, and the profit made 
by the tenant. Under the other system, the rent may be 
changed every six months ; and as eviction is to the tenant the 
worst of all evils, he is, as a rule, obliged to submit in silence 
to every kind of exaction -t 

It is but too easy to show that this tradition is as vigorous as 
ever, and that it continues to paralyse all the efforts of the 
tenant both to improve the land and to better his condition. 
But three years ago, on many estates in the county Donegal, 
the rents were suddenly doubled, and even tripled.f 

Hence it results that in the case of large numbers of tenants 
not only are they in no way induced to improve their farms, 
by capitalizing their profits and employing better methods of 
agriculture, but on the contrary everything dissuades them 
from a course calculated only to aggravate their wretched 
situation. The increase of rent being, in fact, ordinarily quite 
out of proportion with the results obtained, it is evident that 
the work of the cultivator simply enriches his landlord and 
impoverishes himself . His farm is more productive, it it true, 
because it has been better looked after ; but he is worse fed 
because his burdens have become heavier: he daily spends 

* " The reason hereof is ... . for that the landlords there use most shame- 
fully to racke their tenants." — ( View of the State of Ireland, p. 504.) 

t Among a very curious collection of pamphlets, put at my disposition with 
extreme kindness by Dr. Madden, of Dublin, (author of the Lives of the United 
Irishmen), I came upon a kind of permanent tradition touching this matter. 
Swift says in one of them, that ' ' rents are squeezed out of the very blood and 
vitals of the tenants." At the end of the same century, 1787, the attorney- 
general, John Fitzgibbon, declares that, "the peasantry are ground down to 
powder by enormous rents." In 1812, Wakefield, who travelled through Ire- 
land, and studied with particular care the relations between landlord and 
tenant, affirms that in no country in the world are tenants so ground down 
(ii. 795). See, too, upon this point, Gordon's Hist, of Ireland, i. 241 ; Newen- 
ham's Inquiry, p. 15 ; Dr. Woodward, Dean of Clogher, Argument for the 
Support of the Poor, p. 15 ; Curwen, Observ. on the State of Ireland, p. 38 j 
Arthur Dodd's Essay on the Trade of Ireland, ii. 80; Parliamentary Reports 
of Committees of 1825, 1830, 1832 ; Wiggins' Monster Misery of Ireland. 
Dublin, 1843, &c. 

J On one of them the rents were only raised a third. The way the agent 
went to work is, however, worth mentioning. The usual rent was two pounds 
an acre. When the farmer presented himself, a receipt for three pounds an 
acre was handed over to him. This was to serve for the next rent-day, and 
to be considered the basis of the fresh conditions. 



himself and his toil without benefitting either himself or his 
family by his unremitting labour. Common sense, then, tells 
him to do no more than is strictly necessary to meet engage- 
ments, since he reaps no benefit either from his labour or his 
outlay. It is easy to see, that such being the case, the arbitrary 
raising of rent is a double-edged sword ; it cuts the very'men 
that wield it. A landlord who supposes he is increasing his 
fortune by doubling the rent of his tenants, simply puts an 
effectual check upon every improvement by which his estates 
would have gained.* 

People have no adequate idea of the immense loss sustained 
by the whole of Ireland in consequence of this deplorable 
system of rent-raising. In 1844 the Edinburgh Review^ affirmed 
that the cultivated portion of Ireland did not produce one- 
fourth of what it might with good farming, neglected as it 
was by the cultivators, for fear of an immediate rise in the 

Two years back, one of the most eminent prelates of Ireland, 
Dr. Keane, the Bishop of Cloyne, showed, in a celebrated 
pastoral letter, the amount annually lost to the country in 
consequence of the difficulties thrown in the way of agricul- 
tural progress 4 

* " The rent is advanced as the unfortunate tenant advances his improvements. 
The value of the work of years, nights of care, and days of toil, is taken away 
in an instant by a stroke of the pen, and the oppression of the producer con- 
tinues, while the country around him wears as the result of his thrift and 
enterprise an altered aspect."— (Dublin News, 9th March, 1860.) 

In one of the northern counties, a poor tenant whose rent was being con- 
tinually raised, and who was worn out with trying to satisfy there perpetually 
recurring exactions, went one day to complain to his landlord. " You might 
as well cut off my head once for all," said he, " as to treat me like this." " I 
won't cut off your head, my boy," said the landlord, " but I'll shave you as 
close as possible." 

t January, 1844 ; p. 197. 

% The writer translated this letter in the Ami de la Religion of 20th May, 
1860. The Bishop of Orleans quoted several passages from it in the Appendix 
to the printed edition of his Sermon at St. Roch, on the 25th March, 1861. 
In that letter the Bishop of Cloyne observes, that authorities differ on the 
figures expressing the proportions in which the annual value of agricultural 
produce should increase in Ireland ; but whether, according to the highest 
calculation, it ought to double what it is at present, or, according to the lowest, 
increase by but a third or a fourth, it is easy to see that the annual loss is 
enormous. According to the Official Statistics, published in Dublin, the mean 
value of agricultural produce, not including live stock, rose from 1851 to 1857 
to fifty-five millions sterling ; and he calculates that taking the loss at but one- 
fifth of the annual value, that loss would be to Ireland eleven millions ster- 
ling during those seven years. And in fact, he adds, what farmer would 
dream of employing laborious and costly means of draining and reclaiming his 
land, or of increasing the productiveness of that which is already good, by 
applying a better system of cultivation, if his only recompense is sure to be but 
a notice to quit, or an increase of rent on his farm ? Under protecting laws 
the most ungrateful land would become a garden ; under defective laws a 
garden will become a desert. If the income of Ireland increased by several 


In certain counties where the country is too poor, and the 
lots of land rented are too small to allow of cash payment, the 
rent is paid not in cash but by days' work. In the county 
Mayo we saw miserable strips of bog land of not more than 
two acres let at the rate of three days' work per week. Leav- 
ing out Sundays and certain festivals, this would amount to 
about one hundred and fifty days' work per year. Supposing, 
on an average, a day's work to be worth sixpence (and this is 
certainly the lowest figure), we should get a rent of from 36 
to 37 shillings per acre, whilst in the most fertile counties an 
acre of good quality lets for scarcely more than a pound 

In other cases days' work, and certain other services in addi- 
tion, are added to cash payment of the rent. 

Generally speaking, in this kind of relation between landlord 
and tenant there is nothing fixed and definite The simplest 
course is for the latter always to submit to every requirement 
of the former, even supposing such requirement to be based 
upon no positive law. In such cases, moreover, the law inter- 
feres only with the utmost repugnance, for fear of appearing 
to encroach in the slightest upon the rights of property. Even 
supposing the law to offer certain security to the tenant, 
what, as a matter of fact, becomes of such security when 
the administration of the law is in the hands of the landlord 
himself, or of his agent, holding, as they usually do, the 
commission of justices of the peace? 

It is, therefore, true to say that nothing more strongly 
conjures up the darkest memories of the old feudal tyranny, in 
its most grinding and degrading features, than the uncon- 
trolled authority conferred by the traditions of conquest and 
confiscation upon the Irish landlord over his tenant. This is 
what was but lately said in a public letter to Lord Derby 
by a former member of parliament, a liberal Protestant, who, 
for twenty years, had the honor of standing forth as the 
champion of the poor Catholic farmers against the intolerable 
exactions of their landlords.* 

millions sterling, concludes the bishop, it would be for the proprietor a 
security for his rent, for the merchant ■ an increase of prosperity, and lastty, 
for the farmer, whose lot has been so long neglected, a just compensation for 
their expenditure of capital and of toil. Let us add, with Dr. Keane, that 
Ireland would not be the only one to profit by this progress, but England too ; 
the latter is the manufactory — the former the market. The richer Ireland is, 
the greater will be her demand for those stuffs, that furniture, those machines 
which are manufactured only in England. The latter will only benefit, there- 
fore, by the development of Ireland's resources. 

* "I maintain that the landlord of the present day has not a commission 
to act the autocrat, and to revive the extreme power of the feudal tyranny of 


This accusation is but too fully justified by facts of recent 
date ; by facts which the organs of English opinion in France 
could only have denied either by sacrificing truth, or by 
refusing to enter into any examination of the information that 
was at hand. 



Irish landlords are empowered to enforce among their 
tenantry local police regulations having no connexion what- 
ever with the care of their farms or the cultivation of the 
land, These regulations strike into the inmost recesses of 
family life, and are, therefore, instruments of a despotism 
more formidable, and more dangerous, than the public and 
official despotism of the sovereign of a great state: more for- 
midable since the landlord is in more continual contact with 
his victims; more dangerous, since everything at once serves 
and screens him, and because working within the narrow 
limits of private property, he avoids that noise and notoriety 
which, in default of a conscience, would stay the hand of 
more than one guilty master. 

Who would believe that on the estate of one of the richest 
landlords in the south of Ireland tenants are forbidden to 
offer hospitality even to their nearest kin; and that they 
cannot marry without an authorization from the noble lord on 
whom they depend, or rather from his agent !* This nobleman 
usually resides in England, where he is deservedly considered 
a very humane, just, and benevolent landlord. In vain did 
the parish priest protest against a regulation so strange, and 
so outrageously in violation of the rights of the man and the 
Christian: in vain did he affirm that since the introduction of 
that measure the standard of morality had fallen in a very 

ages long past over the abject slaves of serfdom". (Letter of Mr. William 
Sharman Crawford to Lord Derby, 13th November, 1859). Mr. Sharman 
Crawford died in the month of October, 1861, universally regretted by his 

* "They have been made keenly sensible of this abject dependence by 
certain rules and regulations which are new enforced on this estate. By these 
rules no tenant can marry or procure the marriage of his son or daughter 
without permission from your lordship's agent, even where no change of tenancy 
would arise". (Petition of the tenantry of Lord Lansdowne, in the Irish news- 
papers of April, 1858.) 



marked and deplorable manner : in vain did the tenants peti- 
tion their landlord, pointing out and demanding the redress 
of these abuses. The only answer they received was that 
their petition had arrived in London, and had been read; and 
these police regulations continued to remain in full force on 
this estate. 

A few months later the press exposed the existence of 
similar regulations on a large estate in the county of Mayo 
(near Ballina).* 

In the month of October, 1860, a wealthy landowner of 
county Gal way sent to a Dublin paper a list of the tenants 
whom he had considered it his duty to evict, stating, in each 
case, the ground of eviction. In this list we read, as plainly 
as words can make anything plain, that one of the offences 
for which Michael Cavanagh was evicted by his landlord 
(Lord Plunket, the Protestant Bishop of Tuam) was, that 
" contrary to the rules of the estate, he has his son-in-law 
living with him."t 

Perhaps it will be said that these abuses are the exception, 
and that it is unfair to insist upon them when tracing a picture 
of the condition of landed property in Ireland. To repre- 
sent the entire tenant class as living under these abuses as an 
ordinary rule would be decidedly unfair ; and we are eager to 
be first in anticipating the objection. There are in Ireland, 
thank God, many landlords animated in regard of their tenants 
with the most liberal and benevolent intentions ; who, if they 
at all revive old feudal traditions, adopt in them only what is 
fatherly and Christian in their conduct towards families so 
nearly dependant upon them for their livelihood. But having 
made this reservation, due to justice and good faith, and 
confirmed by our personal recollections of visits made to many 
such estates, it is our duty to show that abuses of authority, 
such as we have mentioned above, are possible ; that they still 
frequently occur ; and that no protection or guarantee is offered 
to the oppressed by the general legislation of the empire. 
Our readers will kindly do us the justice to remark that our 
qualification of these abuses is singularly temperate, when 
compared with the indignant complaint uttered by the Times, 
on the subject of property in Ireland, on an occasion on which 

* " A social tyranny unknown in the worst days of feudal bondage is 
enforced by landed satraps. The tenant cannot give in marriage a member 
of his family without leave from the lord of the manor." {Nation, 24th 
July, 1858.) 

t Letter from Lord Plunket to the editor of the Freeman, 20th October, 
I860. — We shall have to return later on to this document and to the whole 
subject to which it refers ; a subject which made considerable noise in England 
and Ireland, and even on the Continent. 


it did not make even the reservation just made by ourselves. 
" Property is there ruled with savage and tyrannical sway," was 
the language of that paper in an article of the 25th February, 
1847, " Landlords there exercise their rights with a hand of 
iron, and disregard their duties with a forehead of brass." 

Free to fetter with regulations even the domestic affections of 
the hearth, the landlordcan, without overstepping the bounds of 
his most formal' rights, deny to a district the benefits of education, 
or subject it to conditions such as Catholic populations cannot 
possibly accept. There is, in fact, no law obliging a landlord 
either to sell or let a piece of land for a school ; and there are 
landlords who forbid their tenants, under pain of eviction, to 
let a house for this purpose. 

There is already, it is true, in such and such a village, a 
school built and supported by that great society* of Protestant 
propagandism, which has taken upon itself the task of snatching 
Ireland from the darkness and superstition of Popery. 

The alternative put to tenants in regard of the future of 
their children is evident : they must choose between ignorance 
and apostacy. They are even fortunate if a threat of eviction 
does not enter into this matter of conscience ; a threat which, 
without leaving the tenant free to accept ignorance for his 
children, would oblige him to choose between crime and 

In a poor parish, among the mountains of Donegal, where 
we met with the kindest and most cordial reception, there are 
about three hundred children old enough to profit by instruc- 
tion. The parish-priest has in vain tried to establish a school 
under government, upon the national system. The four land- 
lords, masters of the district, refused a grant of land. The 
consequence is that an entire generation will grow up in 
ignorance, exposed almost inevitably to all the fatal conse- 
quences which it bears with it. We here see the worth of the 
hackneyed declamations of the orange and ultra-Protestant 
papers, when they accuse the Irish Catholic clergy of wilfully 
keeping the people in darkness and degradation.! 

Two years ago another landlord, of the barony of Erris, 
(county Mayo), forbade his tenants to send their children to 

* " The Church Education Society." This society, of which more hereafter, 
has its head quarters in Dublin (Kildare Place). It directs and supports 
1615 schools, admitting to them a total of 78,487 children, of whom, according 
to the official report of the society, 11,963 are Catholics. The society is 
presided over by six Protestant Bishops. (Thorn's Official Directory, p. 1192.) 

t The village in question is the village of Falcarragh, a few miles from the 
little town of Dunfanaghy, between the mountains and the sea. This village 
is in the neighbourhood of Gweedore, of the trials and extraordinary miseries 
of which, during latter years, we shall shortly have to speak. 



the national school. To assure himself whether or not his 
order was respected, he visited the school, looked over the 
books, and in some cases, in which he had been disobeyed, 
visited with immediate eviction the boldness of those poor 
peasants who were unwilling to deprive their children of the 
priceless treasure of education. 

If sectarian fanaticism can carry a landlord to such lengths 
as to make him refuse a piece of ground for a school, still 
more obstinately will it stand in the way of grants without 
which a parish would have no chapel. Tt is undoubtedly true 
that upon this point great improvement has been made during 
the last thirty years; and the contrast strikes very forcibly 
those who have lived long enough to make the comparison 
between the two epochs. The rule in those days — an almost 
total absence of country chapels, implying the necessity of 
celebrating Mass either in the open air or in the most decent 
and central cabin of the parish — has now become the exception. 
Thanks to the influence acquired by Catholics, and the bound- 
less generosity with which even the most destitute among 
them subscribe for the erection of chapels ; — thanks also (and it 
would be unjust to overlook this part of the matter), thanks 
to the general prevalence of a spirit of tolerance, equity, and 
respect for the sacred right of conscience, a spirit which thirty 
years ago met with no favour, and was banished from social 
usages ; — Ireland has become covered, as though by enchant- 
ment, with churches and chapels; and the number of districts 
deprived of them is daily diminishing. 

It is not, therefore, to the general existence of the abuse, it 
is to the possibility of its revival, and to the all-powerful pro- 
tection enjoyed by it under the landed property code, that we 
wish to draw attention. 

Cases have then occurred, in which, despite the evident wants 
of an entire Catholic population, the landlord has obstinately 
refused a grant of land, although everything was ready for 
the construction of such a building as would enable Catholic 
parishioners to fulfil the religious duties of the Sunday, without 
exposure to the rigours of the weather, or without being 
forced, in spite of age and infirmity, to make long and toil- 
some journeys to fulfil those obligations. 

We know of one rich landlord, of the county Armagh, upon 
whom a deputation of his tenants waited two years ago, for 
the purpose of soliciting a grant of land for a similar object. 
" I cannot in conscience comply with your request," replied 
this Protestant gentleman; — doubtless, a disciple of the school 
of Mr. Spooner, who yearly renews in parliament his mani- 
festo and his complaints, and enters a periodical protest against 


the " national sin" committed by government in endowing the 
Catholic College of Maynooth.* 

In the month of June, 1860, a refusal of this kind induced 
one of the Irish members to appeal to government. In a small 
town of the county Galway, numbering two thousand inhabit- 
ants, nearly all Catholics, there was but one little chapel, 
capable of holding only sixty persons. The inhabitants of this 
town heard Mass as a rule exposed to the wind, the cold, or the 
rain. Frequently the priest had to officiate in the open air 
with the aid of a provisional altar erected in the market-place ; 
thus laying himself open to the severity of the English law, 
which visits with a fine of £100 any Catholic priest found in 
public wearing the sacerdotal vestments.f A petition had been 
forwarded to the landlord, a young cavalry officer, who receives 
no less than £3,000 yearly from this' estate. He refused any 
grant of land, stating that he saw no necessity for granting the 
land asked for, since there were in the suburbs of the town 
chapels at which his tenants might hear Mass. 

If this appeal was attended with no positive results, it served 
at least to show up one of the most revolting abuses of power 
of which an aristocracy of foreign importation could possibly 
be guilty — an aristocracy, moreover, which holds the lands it 
possesses in virtue of religious wars ; — and it called forth the 
strongest remonstrances on the part even of many Protestant 
members. These protests will yet serve as landmarks in the 
history of liberty of conscience. They do great honour to 
those by whom they were uttered in the British parliament, 
and give to the censure of a Catholic writer and a priest an 
authority which no one will contest.^: 

It is a pleasing duty, after an enumeration of such samples 
of intolerance, to have to do public homage to that aged 
Protestant bishop, upon whom (twenty years ago) the parish 
priest called to solicit the grant of a piece of land very advan- 
tageously situated, in the opinion of the whole parish, for the 

* More ample details upon this point will be found in the treatment of the 
Irish Church question ; pod. 

t " At present, about 800 or 900 people were to be seen every Sunday, bare- 
headed outside the chapel, in all weathers, and the priest exposed himself to 
a penalty of £100 every time he appeared, as he was obliged to do, in ecclesi- 
astical vestments in the open street." — (Speech of Mr. M'Mahon, member for 
Wexford, June 29, 1860.) 

J Colonel French (Eoscommon), said " that no one ought to be allowed to 
refuse accommodation for the erection of a house for the public worship of God, 
and he hoped that this would be the last case of this kind which would come 
before the house (hear, hear.)" Colonel Dunne expressed his "belief that 
almost every Irish gentleman would think it disgraceful not to afford to his 
friends and neighbours every opportunity for worshipping God according to 
their own faith (hear, hear.)" — (House of Commons, 29th June, 1860. ) ; 



construction of a church. The request was graciously received 
by the high dignitary ; the parish priest was invited to dinner 
on the morrow, and after doing the honors of his table, the 
bishop got a deed of sale of the land required drawn up. He 
made a " fee-farm grant" of it in perpetuity to the Catholics 
(equal, as we have above stated, to ownership), at the nominal 
rent of one shilling per annum. Is it possible to disguise more 
delicately and ingeniously the generosity of a gift so much 
enhanced by the hand from which it came, and by the purpose 
for which it was bestowed ? 

This fact, indeed, is not the only one to which we might call 
attention as doing honour to that enlightened and liberal frac- 
tion of the Protestant aristocracy which allows no opportunity 
to escape it of mitigating, by the most benevolent and noble- 
minded acts, the painful remembrances of conquest and confis- 
cations ; thereby labouring to bring about that peaceful 
conquest of hearts, without which brute force and armed 
authority are singularly powerless. 

Is not, however, the loud approbation attendant upon each 
fact of this nature a significant commentary upon the general 
state of ideas and maxims upon this point? Does it not mani- 
festly prove that such acts of tolerance and kindness are not 
the rule in the ordinary dealings of the Protestant aristocracy 
with the Catholic population ; and that here, as well as in the 
political questions previously examined, we must take into 
account the religious and social divisions which bring into 
a collision prejudicial to both the Protestant English and rich 
portion of the population and the Celtic poor and Catholic 
natives ? Moreover, the deeper these divisions the greater the 
claim upon our respect of those who endeavour to do away 
with them, and who by simple rectitude and honour rise above 
all the prejudices of education, religion, and party. These are, 
indeed, the peace-makers, in the true and full Gospel sense of 
the expression. They work to bring about peace;* and their 
efforts are seconded by an irresistible power, that of justice and 
mercy combined. May this disinterested homage rendered to 
such efforts spur on these generous men in a course in which 
all must wish that they could draw the whole aristocracy of 
Ireland after them. For in soliciting, as it is our duty to do, 
reforms in the government, in the administration, and in the 
laws, we are aware that these reforms, supposing them granted, 
could not so strike at the deepest springs of the evil as to 
ensure a radical cure. Such a cure depends upon a power of a 
different order : it depends upon spontaneous efforts made in the 

* Pacificus; pacem facer e. 


cause of justice and charity, in the daily dealings of man with 
man. Efforts such as these alone can consecrate and consolidate 
the improvements effected in institutions by time and by the 
political wisdom of statesmen. Without them, the best of 
institutions would simply be the letter without the spirit which 
quickeneth, and would consequently be powerless to repair 
evils accumulated during ages of misrule, and to renew the 
face of a great country. 



The vast size of estates in Ireland, and the relations of most 
landlords with England, often their adopted, when not their 
native country, give the landlord but few opportunities of 
treating in person with his tenantry. His authority is usually 
vested in an agent, who settles in his name the conditions of 
tenure, receives the rents, and in a word, superintends all the 
interests of the estate.* 

The position of the agent was especially important at a still 
recent date, when landlords visited their estates but rarely and 
hurriedly, and knew very little more about them than that 
they were situated in such and such a county, and that they 
brought in so many thousand a year.t 

Scarcely had Ireland been conquered, divided, and handed 
over as a prey to the lucky barons of Henry II., and a few 
centuries later to the soldiers of fortune who had in that 
wretched country glutted the vengeance of Elizabeth, Crom- 
well, and the Protestant parliaments, than the scourge of 
AbsenteeismX was added to already existing sources of oppres- 
sion and misery, and was considered an evil grave enough 
to call for the interference of princes and legislators on more 
than one occasion. 

On these occasions, not only was complaint made of the 
injury done to Ireland by the systematic absence of those who 
lived at her expense, gave her back no share of the immense 

* Digest of Evidence ; ii. 1137. 

+ "The conquerors from England have at all times looked upon Ireland as a 
foreign and hostile country, in which it was good to have possessions, but not 
to settle down." — (Leonce de Lavergne, Economic, Rurale de VAngleterre de 
VEcosse et de VIrlande, p. 394.) 

t This word is now established by the usage of all publicists who have writ- 
ten of Ireland. 


incomes received, remained indifferent to her interests and her 
trials, and who neither attempted to mitigate the awful con- 
sequences of war, nor to forward civilization in that country ; 
but even as early as the fourteenth century, rigorous measures 
were taken against " absentees." 

Thus Richard II. unhesitatingly asked his parliament to 
make a law — which law was passed with quite as little hesita- 
tion — " obliging all persons who possessed lands, rents, or other 
income in Ireland, to reside there, or else to pay a tax to the 
amount of two-thirds of their Irish revenues."* 

In the eighteenth century, during lord lieutenant Earl 
Harcourfs administration, a bill, similar in nature, was pre- 
sented (1773) to the Dublin parliament, " to lay a tax of two 
shillings in the pound on the income of Irish absentee land- 
lords, who would not reside in Ireland at least six months in 
each year. "f Historians tell us that this was a very popular 
measure, and one that made the viceroy a great favourite who 
originated it. The bill, however, being presented for adoption 
to the very men against whom it was to act, was thrown out. 

Under the administration of the late Sir Robert Peel (1841- 
1846) a new tax was levied upon the income of absentees.^ 
The evil continued, notwithstanding; and during the horrors 
of the great famine, people were made sensible of the damage 
done to a country by an aristocracy having no direct personal 
relations with the classes below it. During this period, too, 
the absence of the aristocracy rendered heavy, indeed over- 
whelming, the burthens of those landlords who, unflinching in 
the performance of duty, stood at their posts in the midst of a 
people decimated by that visitation, and honored themselves 
by sacrifices which, in such crisis, are the only privilege to 
which the great and powerful have a claim.§ 

* Law of 1377. (Haverty, p. 303.) 

t Haverty, p. 704. 

% Irish proprietors, living in England, were obliged to pay the Income Tax, 
if they did not prove that they resided the greater part of the year in Ireland. 
$ince the Income Tax was extended to Ireland, however, absentee proprietors 
have ceased to be subjected to any exceptional tax. 

§ A few quotations, taken from a very curious collection put by the chief 
editor of it, Mr. Jonathan Pim, a wealthy and honourable Dublin merchant, 
with the most delicate kindness, at the author's disposition, will enable the 
reader to judge of the fatal results of a system condemned in very strong terms 
by M. Gustave de Beaumont even before the famine had laid the sore bare. 
They consist of the reports of the benevoleut Association formed in 1847 by 
the Quakers of Ireland, England, and America, for the purpose of assisting 
the districts suffering most severely from the famine. In all quarters the 
envoys of this charitable association bear witness to the general absence of 
persons belonging to the higher classes of society, and show in detail its deplor- 
able results. 

"County of Cork. — As not a single resident landlord is to be met with in 
the whole of this Electoral Division, the committee can only hope to sustain 

CHAP. V.] 


For the last twelve years many of those obstacles have dis- 
appeared which might possibly have given a colour to the 
repugnance evinced by the great landlords for living in a 
country troubled by strife, where life was not in safety; and 
still it is perfectly true that the richest and most influential 
members of the Irish aristocracy reside more in England than 
in Ireland, and that when we estimate at £3,000,000 the total 
amount of rents paid by Ireland to non-resident landlords, by 
which she gains positively nothing, we are much below the 

For the rest, it is easier here to point the evil than to 
suggest the remedy. Although the tax upon absentees, 
enforced for the first time in the fourteenth century, has been 
introduced and approved from the time of Richard II. down 
to that of the late Sir Robert Peel, — and by men not at all to 
be suspected of ideas subversive of society — men in whose 
company we might calmly meet all imputation of socialism; — 
still it is repugnant to our principles and to our habits of 
liberty that taxation and the arm of the law should be allowed 
to check the personal freedom, and to interfere with the 
private life, of the landlord. It is true that the landlords 
neglect an important duty in remaining all but strangers to 
the land from which they draw their fortunes ; but we should 
be sorry to see landlords, either Irish, English, or French, 
absolutely bound to residence under pain of a fine. We 
should fear, and rightly, that any such legal obligation would 
be to those affected by it but another pretext for the oppression 
of their tenantry.- Besides, what advance towards the desir- 
able conciliation of two hostile classes could possibly be made 

the sick from the charity of strangers." — (Letter of the Correspondent sent into 
the county of Cork. Transactions of the Central Relief Committee of the Society 
of Friends, during the Famine in Ireland, in 1846 arid 1847. Dublin, Hodges 
and Smith; 1852'; p. 212. 

"County of Donegal. — This parish contains upwards of 10,000 inhabit- 
ants.. Of the fourteen landlords to whom the ground belongs, there are but 
two resident." — (Ibid.) 

" County of Cavan. — This district is especially desolate, from there being 
no resident gentry in the parish." — (Ibid.) 

"County of Mayo. — All the landed proprietors of this poor parish are absen- 
tees ; there has not been a farthing receivedfrom any of them." — (Ibid, p. 214.) 

These quotations might easily be multiplied (Transactions, &c, Appendix 
iv. ; " Extracts from the letters of country Correspondents, showing the general 
non-residence of Landed Proprietors," p. 212 to 216). These same reports 
testify also, that in every instance the whole burthen fell upon those proprie- 
tors who were compelled by the smallness of their fortunes to reside on their 
properties, and whose moderate incomes were insufficient to assuage the 
wretohedness by which they were surrounded. 

(See, also, another work of Mr. Jonathan Pirn, in which the question of the 
famine and its results is most conscientiously examined — Condition and Pros- 
pects of Ireland. Dublin, 1848. ) 

* Some economists estimate it at £5,000,000. 


by relations into which fear of the tax-gatherer would enter 
much more largely than love of his kind, and in which the 
landlord would know, to within a penny, the price of his 
presence among his tenantry? 

We are, consequently, far from disposed to consider an 
absentee tax as a remedy for absenteeism ; and if we speak of 
of it, it is less with a wish to see it re-enforced than to do the 
English government justice by a statement of the measures it 
has taken, at different periods of its history, for the eradication 
of an abuse so fatal to Irish interests. 

In order to put an end to absenteeism and its dire conse- 
quences it is not enough that Ireland now present conditions 
of safety which were wanting to her a quarter of a century 
ago. If the most influential members of the aristocracy are to 
be induced to make it their ordinary residence, and to turn to 
the improvement of their vast estates their whole activity and 
energy, Ireland must be able to offer them the attractions of 
society and of political life. Otherwise, it is easy to conceive 
that the ambition of the nobility will decide for London in 
preference to Dublin ; and for an important government position 
in preference to a career honourable, indeed, but necessarily 
retired and devoid of political influence. Now the Union of 
1800 has done for Ireland very much the same kind of thing 
as the increasing progress of centralization has done for our 
French provinces. The parliaments and universities formerly 
made of our great cities centres, — secondary, indeed, but impor- 
tant ;— where sterling and respected influence might be acquired 
and exercised, whether in the magistracy, in letters, or in the 
ranks of landed wealth. In our days this strong provincial 
life has died out, and, with it, abuses which it is impossible to 
regret; but with these abuses have also disappeared many 
sound liberties and healthy traditions, which have sunk down 
to the standard fixed by central authority for the purpose of 
securing general uniformity, and of drawing the life-stream 
from the extremities to the heart, without guaranteeing a 
corresponding flow from the heart to the extremities. Accord- 
ingly men say now that there is no living away from Paris ; and 
that life in the provinces is but an exile from which to escape 
as soon as possible, — through which the public functionary passes 
unwillingly, rapidly, consoling himself for the distance still 
between him and the capital, by the hope of eventually finding 
there that life of action and influence in which the provinces 
can no longer take part, save so far as to feel its power.* 

* "Political life is almost extinct in the provinces; excepting during the 
temporary excitement of elections, there is no sign of any such thing. Intel- 
lectual activity in the provinces is gradually collapsing ; all men of ambition 


We have only to point out one essential difference. Although 
Paris has no right to say: " I am France," she is, notwithstand- 
ing, one of the most French of our old cities. But who could 
discover Ireland in London, except it be in the tainted courts, 
and filthy lodging-houses of Whitechapel ? We are not, there- 
fore, surprised to hear Ireland complain that England draws 
away her landlords and drains her of her capital, without 
giving her in return anything more than a crowd of English 
Protestant functionaries, for which Ireland is the finest_and 
richest of preys. 



The great landowner, who does not work his estates himself, 
is represented by his " Agent." 

A secondary personage, when compared to the landlord, the 
agent is frequently, as far as the tenants are concerned, the real 
master, since, practically, it is upon him that they depend, and 
to him that they usually look up as the immediate arbiter of 
their fate.* 

Wakefield, who made a two years study of Ireland before 
writing his valuable work, puts us in possession of some 
curious but sad revelations touching these Agents of the 
great landowners. " They are people," says he, " who, without 
the least fear or shame, practise the most barefaced corruption. 
I know cases in which the first question put by the agent to 
a tenant asking for a lease was, and how much do you mean to 
give me?" 

Was it enough to pay the agent alone? No. If he were 
married, money must be given to his wife and daughters. If 
he were unmarried, money must be given still. f 

Wakefield wrote in 1812, and it might reasonably be sup- 
posed that in half a century the progress of publicity, and the 

or talent desert them. . . . Every time you appoint an auditor sub-prefect, or 
a journalist professor of a faculty, in the provinces, these gentlemen evince the 
greatest repugnance, and sigh at being sent into exile." — (Count Montalem bert; 
Speech in the Chamber of Peers, upon the bill for the fortification of Paris. 
March 31st, 1841.) 

* " Digest of Evidence of Lord Devon's Commission ;" 2nd part, p. 1137. 

+ "Wives, daughters, mistresses, all receive money."— (Wakefield ; Account 
of Ireland, I. 287.) " In former times, the practice of accepting bribes and 
gratuities, by agents, bailiffs, and others • connected with the estates, was 
frequently denounced, and was, we fear, too general."— (Dig. of Evid. ; 
p. 1138.) 




increasing severity of opinion, would have rendered impossible 
such scandalous abuses. 

Recent facts go, however, to prove that they are still 
repeated in practice. 

But two years ago the agent of a wealthy Kerry landlord 
informed the tenants that leases might be had on application 
at his office. The tenants took advantage of the invitation- 
and we subjoin an instructive Table* of the sums which the 
poorest amongst them had to give in order to obtain a lease. 
If we add to them the amounts given to the agent's lady, they 
exceed, in many cases, the rent itself. Besides, nothing is 
better calculated to expose the arbitrariness of these acts of 
the agents. One tenant paying nine pounds rent was taxed as 
heavily as another whose rent amounted to £14. 

Amount of 

Amount given 



to Agent for 

(bribe to the 



agent's wife). 





1st Tenant, 





2d „ 





3rd „ 





4th „ 





5th „ 





6th „ 





7th „ 

! s 




8 th „ 

j 13 





The system of tenure-at-will opens a wide field to the 
arbitrariness and venality of agents. A tenant manages his 
farm well, and pays his rent regularly ; his farm is coveted by 
one richer than himself, who buys the favour of the agent with 
hard cash: the former receives notice to quit, and the latter 
takes his place. f 

It is needles to add, that the existence of such abuses in no 
way serves the interests of the landlord, although it is for the 
people a cause of intolerable and humiliating oppression 4 

It happens sometimes, however, that in the dearly bought 
lease there is a flaw. When such is the case the landlord, or 
his agent, takes advantage of it without the slightest scruple, in 

* Taken from the Morning Chronicle, of 17th Jan. 1860. 

t ' ' Tarns off the best and most improving tenant, to substitute some knave 
who has given the agent, or some member of his family, £30, £40, or £50." 
Wakefield adds, but the fact appears to. us quite an exceptional one, and we 
can really hardly credit that anything of the sort can occur in our times : "And 
I know cases where the tenant, after bribing the agent in this manner, could 
not still get his lease, without bribing the proprietor's lady." 

% This is what was complained of by a wealthy landlord of the county Cavan, 
in a letter published by the Dublin Telegraph, on the 23rd of Jan. 1852. 


order to break through his engagements. At the time when 
Wakefield wrote, he says that : " the custom of taking advan- 
tage of such mistakes is so general, that to break a contract of 
this kind in Ireland was not considered the least violation of 

In daily intercourse with the tenantry, since he lives in the 
midst of them, the agent enjoys an amount of power which if 
not tempered by kindness justice and urbanity is more for- 
midable to the tenant than that of the landlord himself. The 
Ulster papers mentioned lately with honour the name of an 
agent of one of the richest landowners in Donegal, who gave 
up his place because he saw that he was the instrument of an 
oppression against which conscience obliged him to protest.f 

Such examples are, however, rare. During the same year, 
in the same county, another agent of a large landowner said 
of the peasants whom he ruled: "You might trample on them 
like grass on the wayside, and they will grow up like weeds."! 

This odious saying falls certainly upon no one except the 
wretch who uttered it : but if we compare this expression with 
certain traditions concerning the official harshness and con- 
tempt with which the " wild Irish" were spoken of (for which 
we refer the reader to the Historical Introduction,) shall we 
not be justified in looking upon it as but a continuation of that 
haughty and domineering spirit which affects to despise this 
unfortunate agricultural class, both because it is not English 
and because it has held fast to the Catholic creed ? 

Other abuses, inherent in the administration of agents, are 
pointed out by Wakefield, which have not as yet completely 
disappeared, although they are certainly much less frequent, 
and can only be looked upon as sad exceptions doomed to 
skulk in the dark, and no longer compatible with the dignity of 
landlords. We mean certain business monopolies at the abso- 
lute disposition of the agents, by virtue of which all liberty of 
commercial transaction is proscribed from one end of an estate 
to the other. Suppose the agent to have a friend, or partner, 
in the butter or cattle trade, the tenants must sell the produce 
of their farms to him and to no other. Suppose they want 
objects of the most ordinary and primary necessity — bread or 
clothes for example — the agent's baker or clothier is at hand, 
and must be resorted to. By arrangements entered into be- 

* Wakefield ; I. 244. 

i" The Landlord in Donegal ; by D. Holland ; Belfast, p; 13. 

X The Landlord in Donegal ; p. 73. 

An Englishman, thirty years agent of several large estates in the north and 
south of Ireland said "that the tenant is generally at the mercy of the agent, 
whose principal business seems to be to grind the highest possible rent out of- 
him." — Wiggins' Monster Misery of Ireland ; 1843; p. 16. 




tween him and the dealer, — himself frequently a tenant, hold- 
ing his farm on these conditions, — the agent receives a certain 
percentage upon all such sales. Even the public-house, where 
poor Pat occasionally loses sight of Father Matthews' temper- 
ance code, is a kind of official public-house. It is kept by a 
friend or creature of the agent, and the latter exacts a divi- 
dend upon the profits made upon drunkenness.* 

Possibly, too, the favour which protection until lately en- 
joyed, was an excuse for the establishment and continuance of 
village monopolies, which added one more to the already nu- 
merous slaveries of the Irish peasant; but it is in vain that 
the Protectionist system has yielded to the doctrines and prac- 
tice of Free-trade : there are still in Ireland localities in which 
Free-trade is unknown. 

We ourselves saw in Ulster a rather curious application of 
this shop-despotism. The population of the village of which 
we speak, as well as of the whole surrounding district, is 
exclusively Catholic. The landlord and his agent will allow 
but one baker's shop there. The privilege of keeping it has 
been granted to a Scotch Presbyterian, who is at the same time 
the recognised liquor- vendor. A monthly fair is held in. this 
village to which all the neighbouring peasantry resort for the 
sale of their cattle, poultry, and farm-produce. One of them 
thought to do a little business on these occasions. He got a 
spirit licence,| and rashly set about building a house. He was 
ordered at once to give up his undertaking. The landlord 
formally announced his intention of allowing no shop in the 
village but that of the Scotch baker. Notwithstanding this 
injunction, however, the peasant was bold enough to open his 
shop and to begin trade. He had, however, no lease ; the fatal 
notice was served upon him, and he had to leave, and sell, at a 
loss, the provisions and liquors which he had laid in. Two 
others tried the same thing, and met with the same fate. The 
Scotchman is protected from competition. What does the 
immunity cost him? — and what share of this lucrative mono- 
poly does he hand over to those who grant it? This piece of 
information we were unable to come at. The inhabitants only 
suffer from this arrangement, by having to put up with barley 
bread any day the Scotchman does not happen to bake. 

When a landlord refuses a grant of land for a school, the 
fanatical portion of the press accuses the Catholic clergy of 
keeping the Celtic populations of the mountains in gross 

* Wakefield's Account of Ireland, I. 299. (We must not forget that Wakefield 
is an English Protestant ; that his book is a great authority ; and that no one 
of his statements has yet been refuted. ) 

+ The licence is granted by the magistrates of the district. 


ignorance. These journals also represent the Irish peasant as 
being the author of his own misery : " he is so idle," they say ; 
" he is so incapable of getting on." This is precisely what two 
young Englishmen in whose company we travelled upon a 
jaunting-car among the rugged and picturesque wilds of 
Connemara, told us. We were passing by some wretched, 
ruined cabins, and these gentlemen laid before me in a few 
words the axiom from which the landlord system in Ireland 
starts: — "The landlords of this country," said they to us, 
" are very good, and do everything to encourage their 
tenantry; but the Irish peasant won't work, and people are 
obliged to get rid of him." 

Delicacy, we suppose, prevented these two Englishmen from 
stating aloud 1 before us their opinion upon the part taken by 
the Catholic clergy in the formation of the wild habits of the 
Irish peasantry. In return we respected their artless sim- 
plicity, and did not undertake to show them that the glorious 
constitution under which they had the happiness to be born 
was far from having accomplished in Ireland that mission of 
civilization, on the sluggishness of whose progress in the other 
countries of Europe British ministers expatiate with so much 
eloquent indignation * 

If then the Irish peasant rarely attempts the most modest 
undertakings of business or of local manufacture, the cause 
of this timidity is evident. He enjoys neither liberty, nor 
security ; nor has he a chance of success. Who indeed, being a 
yearly tenant, at the mercy of the landlord, or his agent, would, 
for the sake of a doubtful gain, run the risk of all but certain 

Under the agent, or general bailiff of the estate, there are two 
minor functionaries, whose work is a corollary of the right of 
eviction, and consists, almost exclusively, in the enforcement 
of that right. We mean the process-server and the driver. The 
'process-server depends, it is true, upon the landlord, not in his 
capacity of proprietor, but in his quality of magistrate. It is 
he who serves tenants with notices to quit, an office which is 
no sinecure, since we saw above that a certain number of land- 
lords regularly serve these notices upon their tenantry, simply 
to have them always at their mercy. 

* We are by no means the first to testify to the almost incredible ignorance 
of many even perfectly educated Englishmen, on the social condition of 
Ireland, and of the real causes of her misery. — See particularly one of the works 
previously quoted ; Jonathan Pirn, Condition and Prospects of Ireland, p. 4. 

In 1846, Lord Fitzwilliam hesitated not to say in the House of Lords that 
" Ireland was a country of which Englishmen were exceedingly ignorant. It 
was a mirror in which England did not very well wish to look ; but from which 
she ought not to shrink, although she might see in that mirror much cause of 
regret, and much cause of shame." — (House of Lords, 23d March, 1846.) 

100 LANDED PROPERTY. [ B00K n . 

As to the driver, his name sufficiently bespeaks his occupa- 
tion. He it is who seizes the cattle if the rent be not regularly 

The driver also plays a part in the execution of eviction- 
warrants, when the moment is come to drive out of their cabin 
and off their farm the evicted tenants.. 

Usually these minions are insufficient for the accomplishment 
of their task, for there is generally more to be done than to 
throw out on to the roadside the furniture of the poor cabin, 
or to wrap up in the bedclothes some poor woman, trembling 
with fever, and to lay her down on the top of the ditch; a 
business not too much for two men. But there are often 
houses also to be entirely demolished, and there is an exas- 
perated population to be intimidated and restrained. Consta- 
bles must then be called in, to lend a strong hand to the drivers ; 
and if it be necessary regiments of the regular army will 
shoulder their arms at the request of the sheriff. Crowbars 
and levers to bring down the dwellings of the " legally'' evicted 
peasant; bayonets, to overawe the desperate crowd; such are 
the necessaries, such frequently the regular apparatus accom- 
panying the execution of sentences against the farmer. Popu- 
lar indignation has branded with an ignominious title the 
whole body of those personally engaged in this brutal work — 
sheriff, bailiffs, drivers, constables, soldiers,— all are comprised 
in the energetic and but too well deserved appellation of the 
" Crowbar Brigade.' 1 '' 

Over 282,000 dwellings, either houses or cabins, destroyed; 
such, according to official documents, are the services done 
within the years 1841 and 1851 by an army which, thank God, 
stands alone in the world.j 

The reader here comes upon an undoubted difficulty, and 
one too serious not to require a full and detailed explanation. 
What relation can possibly exist between the eviction of a 
farmer, and the demolition of his dwelling; above all when, 

* Distress for rent. On large estates there are "pounds" in which the seized 
cattle are kept. These are open air enclosures of dry walls, without any roof. 
Ihe tenants have to feed the cows or pigs detained in pound. If the rent be 
not paid within a month after the seizure, these animals are sold. 

t • ' Various returns which have been called for, by Parliament and by the 
authority of this Commission, show a formidable number of ejectments 
served." — Dig. of Evid., p. 1134. 

These are the statistics, according to official returns, of the number of ten- 
anted dwellings in Ireland : — 

In 1821 .... 1,142,602 

„ 1831 .... 1,249,816 

„ 1841 .... 1,328,839 

,, 1851 .... 1,046,294 

The precise figure would therefore be 282,545. — '.Thorn's Of. Direct., 1861, 

p. 78.) 

CHAP. VJi.] 


as we stated above, the naked land alone was the matter of the 
agreement between the landlord and the tenant; and when 
the latter has, at great outlay of labour, brought together the 
stones and rafters of which his cabin is built? Can we then 
look upon the right of eviction as anything more than the in- 
definite prolongation of that system of confiscation which 
seems to sum up the gross of England's policy in Ireland? 
How has the British legislature been able to tolerate the exis- 
tence of so manifestly iniquitous an abuse, and to stoop so far 
as to sanction with the authority of a civilized government, 
what is in truth neither more nor less than a legal brigandage 
totally subversive of the rights of property ? 

This question is as vast as it is vital. 

It is the one question which shows in its broadest light the 
position, unique in the whole world, in which the agricultural 
classes are placed in Ireland. 

A bill passed towards the end of the session of 1860 has 
slightly modified the ordinary legislation on this capital head. 
Let us, in the first place, state what that ordinary legislation 
was, and what were its consequences previous to the introduc- 
tion of this bill. Afterwards we shall examine the dispositions 
of the bill of 1860, and sum up the results which it appears to 
us to have attained. 



Let us bear in mind that usually the landlord in no way helps 
to cover the first expenses of the in-coming tenant. Here is an 
acre of land, hitherto uncultivated. Often, indeed, it is a de- 
tached patch of mountain heath, or a strip of land upon a bog. 
The peasant begins by putting up a cabin: he then sets hedges, 
digs ditches, strikes out water-courses. Already perhaps it is 
no longer that piece of wild unproductive heath, into which 
he was the first for many a year to drive his mattock or to run 
his ploughshare. If, during this period, the rent has either 
not been raised, or raised moderately and proportionately to 
the profits of the farmer, he looks the morrow boldly in the 
face, forgets that the security of his tenure is guaranteed by 
no lease, or trusts that his landlord will take into consideration 
the improvement of his estate. A rather better year comes, 
one in the course of which a more abundant harvest, or possibly 



stricter economy and fresh privations, have enabled the farmer 
after having paid the rent to lay by a few pounds. He will 
possibly venture so far as to treat himself to something less 
wretched in the way of a dwelling. He replaces the mud 
cabin, which so badly protected his children and himself from 
the wild gusts of the west wind, by a substantial house, which 
he slates. A pretty cottage has risen up by the side of the 
patch of heath which was the primary matter of the agree- 
ment between the landlord and the tenant. But suddenly 
circumstances change; a bad year comes on. The farmer 
finds it impossible to meet his obligations at the appointed 
time. Perhaps the property has changed hands, and the new 
- master has already promised the farm to another tenant. 
Possibly, too, parliament has been dissolved: and the farmer 
has considered it his duty to vote against the landlord or the 
landlord's candidate. " If so, he has not overstepped his right; 
but the landlord in his turn has the right of evicting him, 
and of this right he makes unhesitating use."* This tenant is 
then, accordingly, — to use the legal jargon, — "served with a 
Notice to Quit." 

But he will surely be indemnified for the expense gone to 
in and upon the estate? That cabin, or that slated house, 
those stout hedges, those cattle pens, those artificial meadows, 
that drainage, must have entailed on the too confiding tenant 
an outlay of several hundred pounds, wdiich will enable the 
landlord to triple or quadruple the figure of the rent paid at 
the outset. You evict the unfortunate man, to wdiom no 
written deed secured a guarantee for the future; a man who 
counted solely upon your honour and probity; at least you 
will not allow him to be at the loss of the outlay made by him ? 
You will indemnify him, and you will not suffer that after 
having enriched you by his labour and privations, he shall be 
reduced to beggary, or to the necessity of knocking at the 
workhouse door? 

Now, up to the bill of 1860, the landlord's right was sanc- 
tioned by law, in the most absolute and totally unrestricted 
manner. Eviction entailed the legal confiscation of everything 
forming part of the estate. Whether it were a matter of a 
wretched cabin, requiring only a few applications of the lever 
to bring it dowm, or of a house worth £800,f the proprietor 
was, in no way, bound to indemnify the tenant whom he was 
ruining and reducing to hopeless wretchedness : and in virtue 
of the same justice which had made Englishmen and Scotch- 

* M. De Beaumont ; I., 216. 

t As in a recent case of eviction and confiscation in a little town of Ulster. 



men lords of the ten-elevenths of the soil, the landlord took 
possession of the farm, stables, barns, and plantations which 
had perhaps doubled the value of his estate, and upon which 
h^. had not laid out a single farthing. 

Certainly in presence of such a " right," if the profanation 
of the word be allowable by an application of it to such an 
abuse of authority and power, no one can be astonished at the 
indignant exclamation which it lately forced from a wealthy 
Protestant landlord, when he stigmatised it as " simple rob- 
bery, committed under the name of law."* 

This system has fallen however under a more solemn 
condemnation from those high courts of justice which pro- 
nounce finally upon all cases of eviction and confiscation. 
Under circumstances similar to those above mentioned upright 
magistrates, called upon to decide between their conscience, 
and the letter of the law, obliged to do violence to the former 
in order to respect the latter, have been heard to declare before 
God and man, that they were compelled to administer 

To be obliged by law to administer that which it is the 
divine mission of law itself to combat and destroy! To sit 
upon a justice-seat, to be called to pass sentences commanding 
the respect of all by their harmony with the principles of 
eternal equity, and to confess loudly, that one is forced to 
become the organ of injustice ! Is there any conceivable 
position more strange and more cruel ! Never was a grinding 
and barbarous system the object of a more blighting condemna- 
tion ! What an eternal brand seared into that legislation by 
two solitary words, before unheard of in the mouth of a 
magistrate: We administer injustice! 

Last year the Lord Chancellor himself, that is to say, the first 
and highest interpreter in Ireland of English law, gave a 
similar decision, accompanied by a like protest. Natural 
equity was for the tenant, nor did the landlord's counsel deny 
a single one of the facts put forward as a ground for in- 
demnity. (It was a matter of a £1000.) They confined 

* Mr. William Smith. O'Brien ; Letter to his Grace the Archbishop of Tuam ; 
(Tuam Herald, 15th Oct., 1859.) 

+ Remarkable words of the Right Hon. Thomas Berry Cusack Smith, Master 
of the Rolls ; words frequently quoted since 1858. We give the very words 
used by this magistrate. " He regretted much that he was compelled by law 
thus to administer injustice. The turning out the tenant without giving him 
compensation appeared an oppressive proceeding ; it was repugnant to the 
principles of common justice; and he thought that the case was one that could 
be relied upon during the next session of parliament, in support of the prin- 
ciple of tenant's compensation." The value of the improvement made by the 
umndemnified tenaut was, in this case, £500. (Rolls Court : Sitting of 3rd 
Nov., 1858.) 



themselves to a simple appeal to the formal provisions of 
the law: and, as that law was perfectly unequivocal, the 
Lord Chancellor was obliged to give the benefit of it to him 
who claimed it, unable to do more than express his regret at 
being obliged to do so. Once again, among what people in 
the world could one have found so flagrant a contradiction of 
justice and legality?* 

It is unfortunately patent that this arbitrary coupling of the 
right of eviction, strictly inherent in the plenary rights of pro- 
perty with the legal confiscation of all that the evicted tenant 
has built or set up at his own expense, has been playing an 
important part, especially during the last twenty years, in the 
system carried on in so significative and terrible a manner in 
Ireland. Not only was there nothing to arrest landlords in 
this course of destruction and depopulation, — but more than 
once they have been enticed to it by the rude bait of easy and 
profitable confiscation ; for we may affirm that, had landlords 
been forced by law to indemnify tenants for an outlay, by 
which the land and consequently the estate alone profited, the 
number of evicted families and of ruined dwellings would have 
been very considerably reduced. 

Such a legal barrier did not exist ; and up to the measure 
of 1860, the most lamentable facility existed for landlords and 
speculators of sweeping off Irish families by hundreds and 
thousands, and covering that unfortunate country with those 
ruins upon which the traveller through it lights at every step. 

Two principal causes have during these latter years produced 
wholesale evictions. On the one hand, the famine; which 
totally ruined numbers of small farmers, and drove either to 
America or to the workhouse: on the other, the application, 
especially since the cessation of the rigours of that terrible 
famine, of new doctrines of rural economy, to which several 
Irish landlords unchecked by scruples have sacrificed the 
future and even the very existence of many thousands of 

* " It is a hard case on the tenant, and I would gladly relieve him if I could. " 
(Court of Chancery, May, 1860.) (See Appendix, No. 4, for the details of 
this important affair. ) 




"It is a well established truth of economy," says M. Gustave 
de Beaumont,* " that the same amount of land, which, when 
sowed with potatoes supports twenty persons, would, if sown 
with corn, support only five or six ; and if turned into pasture 
land would support but one." 

From this truth, it results that the substitution of pasture 
land for corn fields necessarily involves a considerable decrease 
of the agricultural population. By one of these methods of 
farming, a hundred persons are supported where, by the other, 
twenty only could be fed. What is then to become of the 
other eighty? It is clear enough ; they are driven off. 

The " Consolidation of Farms" is the technical term applied 
to that process by which this substitution has been effected on 
such a vast scale in Ireland, especially within the last fifteen 

The same system was adopted of old in Italy, and a review 
of its social and political effect on the Roman republic will 
not be without its interest. 

Serious study of the constitution of that republic has shown 
how for two centuries before the Christian era the absorption 
of small by great estates, and the substitution of pasturages for 
cereal growing lands, had rapidly brought the almost total 
extinction of the middle class ; and how these causes had contri- 
buted, nearly as much as the ambition and jealousy of political 
leaders, to bring upon that republic a century of civil wars, 
had crushed liberty, and had founded upon its ruins the 
despotism of the Cassars.f 

Cato the elder had laid the foundation of this agrarian revo- 
lution, big with so many future political and social, revolutions, 
without foreseeing the fatal consequences of the principle he 
adopted: for if large landowners sweep off freemen and 

* Vol. II., p. 106. 

t M. Victor Duruy : Histoire Bomaine, vol. ii,, p. 45, et seq_. '"Latif madia 
perdidere Italiam. " — (Pliny • ) 


replace them by slaves, it is because the kind of cultivation 
considered by them most profitable requires but few hands. 
Now, the oracle itself has said: pasturage is more profitable 
than crop-growing, since cattle costs less, and brings in more 
than wheat. 

Cato was asked one day " What ought the father of a 
family to be if he consulted the best interests of his pro- 
perty?'' "A good cattle breeder," was the reply. "What 
comes next in importance? 1 ' " The middling cattle breeder." 
" What next?" " The bad cattle breeder." " Fourthly?" " The 

Tiie rich patricians applied these principles with stern 
rigour : pasturages spread in every direction ; and where a 
numerous population had but lately tilled the ground, there 
were seen but a few slaves, sufficient to tend the immense 
flocks. The free races, driven, in all quarters, from their 
homes, betook themselves to the Suburra, and huddled 
together there in misery and corruption, until under the 
command of a Marius or a Caesar, they in their turn taught 
that merciless aristocracy to tremble, whose egotism had 
ruined free labour and small property in Italy. 

Cato's programme of economy has been adopted by a con- 
siderable number of Irish landlords, and thousands of families 
have been sacrificed to the rage for sheep-walks, and the 
extension of vast pasturages. 

So long as protection closed the English market to contin- 
ental grain, and that of Ireland sold at high prices, proprietors 
paid but moderate attention to pasturages, and carried the 
subdivision of farms even to excess. Add to this, that up to 
the year 1829 political as well as financial interests had a stake 
in the encouragement of this subdivision and multiplicity of 
tenures.f It was, in fact, the period at which electoral rights 
were in the hands of forty shilling freeholders, and as a vote 
against the landlord was a thing unheard of at that time, the 
greater the number of farms on the latter's estate during an 
election, the greater was the number of votes at his command.! 

In 1829 however this electoral privilege was destroyed 
in order to take the edge off Catholic Emancipation, and to 
still in a certain manner Protestant susceptibility. Free 
trade also in corn became in 1844, in consequence of the 

* "A quo quum qusereretur quid maxime in re familiari expediret, 
respondit : Bene pascere. Quid secundum ? Satis bene pascere. Quid 
tertium? Male pascere. Quid quartum? Arare." (Oic. De Offic; ii. 25; 
Col. vi. ; Preef. 4.) 

t Whitley Stokes, M.D. ; Observations on the Population and Resources of 
Ireland; 1821. 

Z "Parliamentary Committee of 1823; Digest of Evidence, p, 1 125." 


Cobden league, and the not inglorious defeat of Sir Robert 
Peel, one of the principles of English political economy. The 
market was thrown open to continental grain, which a high duty 
had hitherto kept at a distance. The price of English and 
Irish wheat fell as a necessary consequence of this unexpected 
competition. The personal interests of the landlord having 
changed, he set about consolidating his farms and multiplying 
pastures, by reducing the extent of corn-growing land, with 
just as much eagerness as he had previously shown in splitting 
up into infinitesimal lots, the vast extent of his property. 

The present high prices realised by butter, and the enormous 
consumption of meat in England, are the reasons which have 
induced Irish landlords to turn that island into one immense 
meadow. This sudden transition however from one system 
to another, from the excessive parcelling of tenures to their 
consolidation into large farms, has not been effected without a 
violent reaction upon the social life of the agricultural class. 
To speak truly, that class has borne the whole expense of that 
revolution. To the detriment of that class and the profit of 
an insignificant minority has been established a new order of 
things, which in twenty years has provided for those that 
remain more room, more air, more work, more food, more 
comfort, but by ruthlessly sweeping away three millions of 

This is, we are aware, a question which, at the present day, 
is giving rise to the hottest and most bitter of discussions, and 
one into which it is necessary to go deeply. Its importance 
will be our excuse for the length at which we have deemed it 
necessary to discuss it. 


The leading opinions on this point, may be summed up as 
follows : 

" The climate and the moist soil of Ireland have evidently 
destined her to be a land of pasturage ; consequently landlords 
have, in extending pasturages and reducing the amount of 
arable land, done no more than act upon the data afforded by 
nature. As to her population it increased from 1821 to 1841 
with such unusual rapidity that the work to be done became 
insufficient to occupy the number of disposable hands and to 
fill the number of mouths. Hence the frightful disasters of 
1846 and 1847, years of a terrible crisis through which another 
people would doubtless have made its way with less loss. Those 
nice proportions which ought always to exist between the popu- 
lation and the resources of a country and which at present 
exist in Ireland, will lay the solid foundation of a better future. 



To complain of the consolidation of farms and the advantages 
of emigration, is simply to sacrifice to vulgar prejudice, and to 
unable to estimate at its real value, the lasting good which 
lamentable but temporary sufferings have done to a whole 

We must frankly admit that this opinion has on its side 
great authorities, in matters of economy, both in England 
and upon the Continent. It is, moreover, the system upon 
which Irish landlords, even the most just and benevolent 
have, during the last ten years, effected great changes on their 

Let us at once concede to this system then everything to 
which it has a claim ; our reservations will only be thereby the 
more equitable and more solid. 

Ireland has, indeed, at all times been renowned for the 
beauty of her meadows. Buchanan, in the second volume of 
his History of Scotland calls her the richest pasturage in 
Europe,* and Orosius had, in the fifth century borne the same 
testimonyf to the salubrity of her climate, the fertility of her 
soil, the abundance of her fruit, the extent of her pastures, 
and the number of her flocks. Few countries could, according 
to him, sustain a comparison with her, none surpassed her. 

The fact of the excessive parcelling of the soil, and the 
impossibility experienced by numbers of families of eking out 
an existence and facing the rent day, is stated by all official 
documents upon the condition of Ireland, published within 
the first forty-five years of this century. Indeed previously to 
the year 1845 the farms under three acres numbered no less 
than 300,000, amongst which were many of one or even half 
an acre; those of from three to nine acres numbered 250,000; 
those of from nine to twenty-four acres 80,000 ; and of those 
above twenty-four acres there were only 50,000. This made 
600,000 farms of less than nine acres, and the exorbitant rents 
asked left the farmer just wherewith to escape starvation, and 
reduced him to such a pass " that the least failure in the crops 
began by rendering the payment of rent impossible, and ended 
by becoming a death-warrant to the tenant himself ."J 

This extreme sub-division of the soil had, in certain parts of 
Ireland, brought about a kind of ill-proportioned concentration 
of the population, and had, in consequence of the difficult 

* a 

'• Pascua fere totius Europse uberrima." 

f " Cum Hibernia, coeli salubritate, agrorum fertilitate, ubertate frugum, 
pastionis magnitudine, armentorum gregibus, conferre paucas, anteferre nullas 
valeas."— (Compare Ireland's Natural History, by Gerard Boate, Doctor of 
Physick. London, 1652; reprinted, 1860; Dublin, Thorn.) 

J Leonce de Lavergne : Economic Rurale de V Angleterre, de VEcusse, et de 
VIrlande, p. 380. 


condition of agriculture resulting from a vicious system of 
tenure and farming, destroyed the balance which should 
always exist between population and consumption. It was 
therefore desirable that this state of things should be modified, 
and never had the question of landed property in Ireland 
been the object of more serious attention on the part of 
economists and statesmen than at the period to which we 

Unforeseen events came, and resolved by frightful misery 
a part of this very complex problem : and if the sole cause of 
Ireland's misfortunes had been in the excess of her population, 
or in the unequal distribution of that population over her sur- 
face, it must be admitted that the disappearance in ten years 
by famine or emigration of more than two millions of men 
ought to be for the evil complained of a remedy as effective 
as cruel. 

This frightful decrease of population, unexampled in the 
history of nations, has however still left more than one diffi- 
culty standing ; and if in the lofty and icy regions of econo- 
mical science, there were men able to congratulate themselves 
upon a revolution so terrible and so radical, upon the daring 
and publicly expressed belief that it was " providential,'' there 
were also Christian moralists who found it impossible not to 
touch upon other sides of the question designedly passed over 
in silence by the apologists of the new system. 

We should be glad could we promise ourselves that the 
following considerations would bring these points into relief : 

That the peculiar nature of her soil and climate has fitted 
Ireland for a larger proportion of meadow than of corn- 
growing land, and consequently destined her to thrive by the 
number and fine quality of her cattle, is a fact scarcely to be 

Must we, therefore, necessarily conclude that the preference 
given to pasturage, oxen, and sheep, over arable land, and over 
the men who gain their daily bread by husbandry, may lawfully 
be pushed so far as to force men to fly their native land by 
hundreds of thousands, and to seek a new home beyond the 
seas, in order to make room for the four-footed patricians of 
Durham and Dishley ?* 

Is this just ? Is it humane ? Even supposing that by the laws 
of political economy it is necessary — a theory we by no means 
admit, — what man with an understanding or a heart would hesi- 
tate to protest with all his force against such a necessity and to 

* Varieties of oxen and sheep particularly esteemed in the great pasturages 
of the United Kingdom. — (See the work of M. Lgonce de Lavergne, before 
quoted ; chap. ii. and iii.) 


repeat with the accents of stubborn conviction the hoary adage 
of Christian honor, " Pereat mundus, fiat justitia;" let riches, if 
needs be so, perish, and with them comfort and material pros- 
perity, — especially when the prosperity of but a few is on one 
side of the scale, of which the other is big with the misfortunes 
and ruin of the masses, — yes, perish all these things rather than 
justice, humanity, and honor ! 

And what Englishman really devoted to his country and 
understanding the true springs of her prosperity and her glory, 
would for a moment suppose that the honour of a great people 
such as that of Britain is to be estimated by the annual returns 
of the exportation of cattle and butter, and that it will be a 
sufficient answer in the mouths of the men who have to go 
before God bearing the weighty responsibilities attached to 
wealth and political influence, to say: Ireland is in a better 
condition, but that better has cost her three millions of her 

A few very curious lines of Spenser, hitherto but little 
noticed, show that as early as the time of Elizabeth, perhaps in 
the councils of that queen on the discussion relative to the 
most advantageous use to be made of the immense confiscations 
in Ireland, the question had already been raised whether 
pasturage and cattle or wheat ought to have the preference. 

In the well-known dialogue on the state of Ireland, in which 
Irenseus represents Spenser's opinions, and probably those of 
contemporary English politicians, that personage makes upon 
this point a very judicious reflexion, one which in three 
centuries has lost none of its appositeness. " And to say the 
truth," he writes, " though Ireland be by nature counted a 
great soyle of pasture, yet had I rather have fewer cowes kept, 
and men better mannered, than to have such huge increase of 
cattle, and no increase of good conditions."! 

Spenser would even have wished " that there were some 
ordinances made amongst them, that whosoever keepeth twenty 
kine, should keep a plough going."! 

* We shall probably be asked : why always recur to this lamentable figure ? 
The improvement is palpable. Why attempt to sadden us by such dark 
memories ? You have only to forget it, and to look confidently at a better 
present with the expectation of a still better future. Such a style of arguing 
reminds vis of the astounding saying of an intelligent and generous man whose 
enthusiasm however for the American Republic carried him to extreme 
lengths. It was vainly attempted to call his attention for a few moments to 
the frightful ulcer of slavery, and to the shocking contrast between the con- 
stitution of a free nation and the maintenance of such a fearful abuse. "I 
grant it," was the reply " but it has only to be kept out of sight, aud the 
United States is the most glorious and civilized nation on the face of the 
earth !" 

f View of the State of Ireland, p. 580. 

i Ibid. 


Neither does he fail to remark, as many have since 
remarked, that labour, and constant manual work in the fields 
are more favourable to morality and civilization than the easy 
task of tending flocks and herds in fat pasturages, an employ- 
ment which he considers productive of idleness and theft.* 



The same authors who have shewn the superiority of Ire- 
land over all other countries in point of pasturage, are not less 
unanimous in the opinion that the soil of that country is so 
fertile and so happily composed that with ordinary pains 
and the use of ordinary means it yields abundant crops of 
wheat, barley, rye, and potatoes, — in a word, of all the cereals 
which, either directly, or indirectly, go to the nourishment 
of man.f 

This extraordinary fertility of Ireland is a point to which 
it is most important that attention should be paid ; since if it 
be true that Ireland, properly handled, can easily support a 
population twice or thrice greater than the largest she has 
ever vet counted, what are we to think of that pretended 
" surplus population" which, in the eyes of some, justifies 
wholesale evictions, and the sad strides of the national 
exodus ?X How are we to believe after that, that without the 
sacrifice of three millions of men Ireland could not have been 
saved, since she has always been able to feed at least six times 
three millions of men ? Is one not then justified in demanding 
a strict account of those who have disappeared. Quid fecisti? 
Vox sanguinis fratris tui clamat ad me de terra. 

" About one half of the territory of Ireland" says M. Leonce 
de Lavergne, " consists of a fat soil, with a chalky sub-soil, 
that is the very best soil imaginable. The English themselves 
acknowledge that as soil it is superior to that of England. § 

* "For this keeping of cowes is of it selfe a very idle life, and a fit nurserie 
for a thief e." {View of the State of Ireland.) 

' ' If the occupier kept only a herd to mind some cattle and spent his time 
and money in hunting and in drinking, trusting to Protection for high prices, 
he mixed with the notables of the land, and looked down with scorn ineffable 
on all that savoured of occupations vile, of industry or intelligence." — Sir 
Robert Kane ; Industrial Resources of Ireland ; p. 286. 

t It is commonly said in England, that Ireland is more fitted for being a 
cattle country than a producer of corn. But her land yields as fine wheat as 
any soil in England ; indeed wherever the Irish lands are well drained, com 
produce is abundant and excellent. (Lynch ; Measures to be adopted for the employ- 
ment of the labouring classes in Ireland ; Lond., 1839; p. 15.) 

X " We cannot despair when we find a country enjoying such natural advan- 
tages as Ireland possesses, with a large extent of uncultivated or unimproved 
land, and a numerous population, able and willing to labour, if opportunities 
are afforded to them." — (Digest of Evidence ; p. 1165.) 

§ Economic Burale, p. 372. — Swift : " A short View of the State of Ireland.'''' 



The evidence of Arthur Young, of Wakefield, and of 
MacCulloch, is not less express.* 

Moreover although Ireland comprises, especially in the 
west, large tracts of marsh bog, ~ and difficult mountain 
country, the most competent judges are of opinion that the 
greater part of those waste lands might be brought under 
cultivation, and would soon repay the capital laid out in 
reclamation, drainage and in rendering the country whole- 

These very promising conditions would, according to Sir 
Robert Kane," be still further improved, were the enormous 
quantity of cattle annually shipped off from Ireland to England 
consumed in the country which produces it. This assertion 
will hardly surprise us when we hear, from the same eminent 
scientific authority, that in one pound of bone there is contained 
the same amount of phosphoric acid which goes to the forma- 
tion of twenty-eight pounds of wheat or of two hundred 
pounds of potatoes4 

Now taking Ireland in her present state, under the existing 
system of cultivation, Sir Robert Kane shows that she could 
support with ease eighteen millions of inhabitants : that if the 
best methods of farming were generally adopted, the soil, 
responding to more intelligent and better directed efforts, could 
by double, or even triple crops, feed without difficulty not only 
twenty-five millions, the figure stated by M. Gustave de Beau- 
mont, but as many as from thirty to thirty-five millions of 
inhabitants. Hence it is clear that the so-called surplus popu- 
lation of Ireland, at a time when she had only eight millions of 
inhabitants, is a piece of pure imagination; and that this 
pretended excess is a mere illusion grounded, if the expression 
be not paradoxical, upon the unequal distribution of the 
population. § 

To look then upon the famine of 1846 and 1847 as a real 

* See for this evidence the above-mentioned work of Sir Robert Kane ; pp. 
240 and 241. 

f ' ' The area of bog is 2,833,000 acres, of which malost all is capable of recla- 
mation, and of being adapted to productive husbandry In fact, there is no 

district in Ireland so sufficiently elevated as to thereby present serious impedi- 
ments to cultivation, and scarcely an acre to which the name of incapable of 
cultivation can be applied." (Sir R. Kane ; p. 244.) 

% " Let it be recollected that in lib. of bone there is the phosphoric acid 
belonging to 281bs. of wheat, or of 2501bs. of potatoes ; that this phosphoric 
acid is indispensable to the healthy growth of the plants and of the animals 
by which they are consumed ; and hence will appear the vital importance to 
agriculture of preserving as far as possible these valuable materials, and return- 
ing them to the soil." — {Industrial Resources of Ireland, p. 271.) 

§ " It must, I think, be evident to every reflecting person, that all fears as 
to a ' surplus popidation' are perfectly ideal, and that it is its unequal, and not 
its aggregate amount, which is to be deplored." — (Id. p. 299, and 300.) 


dispensation of Providence, in order to the relieving Ireland 
of a fatal surplus of population; to consider the system of 
forced emigration, by which Ireland loses yearly 60,000 
inhabitants, as the sole means of restoring the balance between 
population and consumption, of slackening the mad competition 
for land, of raising wages, and of thereby improving the 
material condition of the working classes; — is very possibly 
nothing short of attributing gratuitously to Providence designs 
anything but providential. It is nothing short of an argument 
based upon the assumption that Ireland was absolutely unequal 
to the task of providing, out of her own resources, for the 
wants of her children.* 


It does not however suffice to show hypothetical! y, that if 
the land were properly tilled, and landed property better 
managed, Ireland could feed a population fourfold greater than 
her present one ; (scarcely six millions). People will be more 
astonished to hear that, during those very years of cruel 
famine, when the unfortunate Irish perished by thousands in 
consequence of- the absolute failure of the potato crop, (the only 
food within reach of the working classes), Ireland was actually 
producing corn and cattle certainly sufficient to snatch from 
the grave the armies of unfortunate beings who were writhing 
in the agonies of hunger and despair. 

This fact was unknown in France; it is important that light 
should be thrown upon it,' in order to the full and proper 
understanding of the condition of landed property in Ireland. 

In every country, in every known language, the word fam me 
means absolute want of the strict necessaries of life. In 
Ireland the expression has a different import. It signifies that 
state of things, in which the peasant having, — in order to pay 
his rent, destined frequently to be spent in England, — sold all 
the wheat and butter produced by his little farm, finds himself 
reduced by the potatoe disease to the necessity of eating boiled 
herbs or wild turnips, which protect him but a short time from 
the dreaded approaches of the famine fever. 

To preserve life before all things, would seem to be a 
universal law of Nature, admitting of no exception. 

* Such was in 1835 the view taken of the case by a Parliamentary Com- 
mittee : "It appears most politic to use (our) internal resources, by which the 
revenue of the exchequer must be increased, rather than encourage emigration, 
by which the revenue would suffer a diminution, or thin have the labouring 
classes in their present state, by which poverty, crime, and the charges of 
government must be inevitably extended."— Com, on Pub. Works, 2nd Report, 



With the Irish peasant it is not so. Above all, before all, 
pay the rent ; if anything remain, live ; if nothing, lie down and 

The existence of this frightful anomaly has long been 
proved beyond a doubt. As early as 1822, during a debate in 
parliament relative to a partial famine which had, in many 
counties driven the people to eat wild herbs, Cobbett had 
said :* 

" Money it seems is wanted in Ireland. Now people do 
not eat money. No, but money will buy them something 
to eat. 


" Pray, observe this, reader. And let the parties get out of 
the concern if they can. The food is there, and we know 
that the food is there ; for since the famine has been declared 
in parliament,* thousands of quarters of corn have been im- 
ported every week from Ireland into England." 

The years 1846 and 1847 witnessed the same strange 
scandal. Men were dying in Ireland by thousands, and Eng- 
land got the whole world to come forward and meet this 
frightful disaster. America sent convoys of wheat : the Sultan 
added a donation to those of the other crowned heads: Eng- 
lish private charity did wonders, in order to save the countless 
families who had in the short space of one night lost the crop 
of potatoes on which their lives depended until the following 
spring. But what ! — even then Cobbett's exclamation could 
again be justly used : the statistics of exportation, as well as the 
English lists of current prices, confirm it in the most explicit 
manner: The food was there ! 

Let us simply quote a few figures. The following is the 
list of exportations from Ireland to England for the months of 
July, August, and September, of the year 1846: 


59,478 quarters, 


18,417 id. 


245,067 id. 


242,257 id. 


138,241 id. 

Oxen and Cows, . 




Sheep and Lambs. 


Pigs, . 


In a letter published during the month of October 1847, 
containing a mass of local statistics, Mr. John Martin, of Long- 
horne, concluded that the total of provisions produced by 
Ireland during the preceding year represented no less a sum 
than forty-one millions sterling, and that the exports to 

* Cobbett's Register, July, 1822. 



England amounted to fifteen millions. Other economists 
however think his estimate too low, for according to official 
documents, there were exported during the year 1846 for 
the English market 1,875,393 quarters of wheat alone.* 

The following details borrowed from the weekly returns of 
contemporary papers fully vouch for the truth of our state- 

The Daily News of the 3rd of October 1847 stated that the 
corn in the London market was chiefly drawn from the pre- 
vious Irish crop. We read in the Drogheda Argus that in 
the single week ending that October 3rd there were exported 
from Drogheda 1200 cows, 3500 sheep and pigs, 2000 quarters 
of wheat, 211 tons of flour, and 130 boxes of eggs— besides 
butter, bacon, &c. During the same week, {Evening Post of 
3rd Oct.) there were shipped at Waterford for .England 250 
tons of flour, 1100 sheep and pigs, 308 oxen and cows, 
5400 barrels of wheat and oats, 7700 firkins of butter, and 
2000 flitches of bacon .^ 

In short, during the four famine years Ireland exported 
four quarters of wheat for every quarter imported. And it is 
to be remarked that, of the wheat imported, part had been 
previously exported from Ireland. It was thrown back upon 
that market after the speculators had made their profits out 
of it. 

The reports of the Government Commissioner! for the year 
1847, a year which posterity will know by no other name than 
that of the " famine year," estimates the produce of Ireland in 
wheat, cattle, butter, eggs, &c, &c, at £44,958, 120,} an amount 
sufficient, according to statisticians and economists, to feed 
sixteen millions of men. The total population of Ireland was, 
at that time eight millions. Since that time two millions and 
a-half have disappeared, either by famine and its consequences, 
or by emigration. § 

Are we not entitled, in face of such a mystery, to exclaim 
with an American bishop: "I may be told that the famine in 
Ireland is a mysterious visitation of God's providence. But I 
do not admit any such plea. They call it God's famine ! No ! 

* Thorn's Offic. Direct. 

t Captain Larcom (now Major-Gen. Sir Thomas Larcom, Under-Secretary 

for Ireland) ; Thorn's Off. Dir. 1852. J 

% This very year Mr. Wyse, the American Governor of Virginia, being at 

Rio de Janeiro, was astonished at the enormous quantities of smoked beef sent 

from Ireland to Brazil. 

§ We subjoin the precise figures of the official Census of 1861 : — 
Population in 1841 . 8,175,124. 
Do. 1851 . 6,552,385. 
Do. 1861 . 5,764,543. 



no ! God's famine is known by the general scarcity of food, 
of which it is the consequence; there is no general scarcity, 
there has been no general scarcity of food in Ireland, either the 
present or the past year, except in one species of vegetable ; 
the soil has produced its usual tribute for the support of those 
by whom it has been cultivated. But political economy found 
the Irish people too poor to pay for the harvest of their own 
labour, and has exported it to a better market, leaving them to 
die of famine."* 

The dogma of a " surplus population," so convenient of use in 
the justification of the wholesale-eviction system, and of emigra- 
tion, seems to us to meet in the above statistics with a very 
formal overthrow. Ireland has suffered much more from the 
bad management of landed property, and the wilful hand of 
man, than from the resistless pressure of those trials which 
Providence sends or permits. To the eternal honour of Irish 
probity will it be stated that thousands of men died of hunger 
rather than lay their hands upon what they considered to be 
another's goods : it may be said that they carried almost to 
suicide their respect for the rights of property, and in dying of 
want, continued to feed their masters.f Was ever situation 
comparable to this? 

A sadder hue is lent to these details when in the very pre- 
sence of a people thus pining away and dying within reach of 
provisions of all sorts, daily shipped off" from Irish ports for 
Liverpool, Bristol, Milford Haven, and London, we meet with 
the expression of official satisfaction at the progress of well- 
being and comfort among all classes of English society. A 
report of the Chancellor of the Exchequer during the month of 
February 1847, stated that coffee was being consumed in 
England to the amount of £7,000,000 beyond the amount 
leached by the sale of that article in 1843: that the consump- 
tion of butter and cheese had doubled; and that the consump- 
tion of currants for Sunday puddings had risen, among the 
working classes, from 254,000 to 359,000 cwts. As to tea 
the demand for that article had during the last four years 
risen by 5,400,000 lbs.J 

* His Grace The Most Rev. John Hughes, then Bishop, now Archbishop of 
New York. 

*h Many bishops have certified to us the truth of this fact. 

t This is what gave rise to the terrible saying : ' ' The precise correlative of 
a Sunday dinner in England is a coroner's inquest in Ireland upon a victim of 




It is sufficiently manifest that the unfounded opinion respect- 
ing a " surplus population,'' even if received, would be an argu- 
ment against the substitution of pasturage for corn-growing 
land. The argument attempted upon this point is in truth a 
rather singular one : that the country is barely able to support 
eight millions of inhabitants ; therefore the difficulty must be 
increased by a modification of the system of farming, and by- 
turning Ireland into one vast meadow !* Would it not be 
both theoretically and practically better to develope in a soil 
so rich, so generous, and so ready to repay a hundred fold, 
resources which would afford its inhabitants not only the 
necessaries but even the comforts of life? 

It is strange enough that Ireland should be considered as 
forming a solitary exception to a general rule. In other 
countries, and in the first place in England and Scotland, 
progress is generally measured by increase of population. 
Wherever, in fact, the earth is not absolutely sterile, and 
industry not absolutely dead, the larger the number of stout 
arms to dig and enrich the soil, to bring the might of modern 
invention to bear upon manufactures, the greater is the deve- 
lopement of national wealth. That a larger proportion of 
mankind may enjoy better conditions of existence, a larger 
share of education and of liberty, is evidently the ideal at 
which all Christian society must aim. Such is the meaning of 
the blessings given by God to his children on earth, blessings 
to which they alone, by their passions, their cupidity, their 
egotism or their sensuality, can offer an impediment. On the 
one hand " Increase, and multiply, and fill the earth ;''f and on 
the other this earth, tilled by man in the sweat of his brow, 
giving him in abundance, " that wine may cheer the heart of 
man, that he may make the face cheerful with oil, and that 
bread may strengthen man's heart."$ 

Ireland alone seems to form an exception to this general rule 

* See the curious little work by the Anglican Bishop Berkeley : The Querist. 

"87. Whether it be not a sure sign or effect of a country's thriving to see 
it well cultivated and full of inhabitants ? And if so, whether a great quantity 
of sheep-walk be not ruinous to a country, rendering it waste, and thinly in- 

" 88. Whether the employing so much of our land under sheep be not in 
fact an Irish blunder ?" 

t Gen. i. 28. 

% " Exibit homo ad opus suum Ut educas panein de terra, et vinum 

laBtificet cor hominis, ut exhilaret faciem in oleo, et panis cor hominis con- 
firmet."— {Ps. 103.) 




of the developement and progress of human society. Her 
prosperity is reckoned by heads of cattle, whilst the rapid 
decrease of her population, unequalled in the world, inspires 
no alarm. 

The latest agricultural statistics show that the extent of 
pasture lands is becoming daily greater in that country. In 
1858 there were 3,748,380 acres of land under the plough 
there: in 1859 there were only 652,2,386: in 1860, 2,639,384, 
and finally in 1861, 2,623,683 acres.* 

In 1858 there were 546,964 acres of wheat crops: in 1859 
there were but 464,175: in 1860, 466,415.f 

Since the year 1847 there has been a falling off of corn 
lands in the county of Cork alone, to the amount of 55,000 
acres ; and, during the same period, meadow and pasture lands 
have increased in such a manner as in twelve years to double 
the profits of the butter exporters.^ During the same twelve 
years there has been a decrease of 38,863,925 barrels in the 
amount of oats grown, and of 7,502,878 in that of barley. 
During the single year 1860 pasture gained on cereals to the 
extent of 137,375 acres. 

The landed interest in Ireland is then adopting a system of 
which every fresh stride will be attended by a proportionate 
decrease of population. Now to be aware that in presence of 
this increase in the number of horned cattle and sheep,|| the 
Emigration Companies are barely able to meet the demand 
upon them, and that, during the first eight months of the year 
1860, more than 60,000 emigrants sailed from Irish ports, is 
sufficient, we imagine, to darken very considerably the charm- 
ing pictures of Irish prosperity sketched in official speeches. 

* Agricult. Statistics of Ireland, 1858, 1859, 1860, 1861 ; New York Metro- 
politan Record, April, 1860 ; Mechanic's Magazine, Nov. 1861. 

^Agricultural Statistics of Ireland, 1860; p. 4. There was also a marked 
falling off in the amount of potato crops : (4,329,523 tons in 1859 ; in 1860 only 
2, 741, 380. )-{Ib. lb.) 

X Speech of Lord Carlisle at the Cork Agricultural Show ; July, 25, 1860. 

|] Except in 1861. In fact the Agricultural Statistics officially published in 
September last show that the number of horses, pigs and horned cattle has 
fallen off considerably : poultry alone has gained. 

The following are Mr. Donnelly's (Registrar-General's) figures : — 


Horned Cattle. 








The severity of the weather during the last two years, and doubtless the diffi- 
culties thrown by insecurity in the way of small farmers desirous of stock 
breeding, are the causes of this decrease. 



Far be it from us to call in question either the good faith or 
the good- will of a man in whom the great qualities of mind 
and heart belonging to the English aristocracy are worthily 
represented, and to challenge whose sincere desire to benefit 
the country under his administration would be a simple injus- 
tice ! We may notwithstanding be allowed to ask whether the 
present Viceroy does not, as it were in spite of himself, pay 
his tribute to what may be called English prejudice against 
Ireland, when, in presence of wealthy landowners who so 
largely work the system of farm consolidation and of cattle 
grazing, he not only has not a word to say upon the disadvan- 
tages of such a system, but by his encouragement lends it a 
sort of official sanction ? We may be disposed to admit that 
there has been some slight exaggeration in the melancholy 
comments which the recent speeches of Lord Carlisle have 
evoked from the Irish national press. But are they not 
very excusable, and do we not all feel what men of heart must 
suffer, when the prosperity and happiness of their country is 
extolled because forsooth the number of oxen and sheep is on 
the increase, whilst the population is yearly diminishing, and 
the London papers can exclaim with a tone of guilty and truly 
homicidal joy :* " The Catholic Celt will soon be as rare in 
Connemara as the Pawnee Indian in Massachusetts ?" 

A few extracts from these speeches will serve to show the 
strange and selfish point of view, from which, we repeat it, the 
majority of Englishmen unwittingly look upon Ireland: — 

Beasts, said the Lord Lieutenant lately, appear to be above all other 
things the product most in harmony with the soil and climate of Ireland. 
Corn, (such is his argument,) can easily be transported from one coun- 
try to another, even to great distances, at comparatively low prices. 
It is not so with live stock, " Hence the great hives of industry in 
England and Scotland across the channel can draw their frequent ship- 
loads of corn from more southern and drier climates, but they must have 
a constant dependence upon Ireland for an abundant supply of meat ; 
(applause !) ;" so that, at this moment, " it appears that whether for 
cattle or for sheep, nearly one-half of the whole surface of Ireland was 
devoted to pasture." As regards the county of Cork in particular, he 
adds, cereals there occupy 55,000 acres less than in 1847- On the 
other hand live stock has more than doubled within 20 years ; it 
counted 152,000 heads in 1840,— there are now 333,000. f The pro- 
duction of butter has increased in the same proportion ; from 253,000 

* The Times. 

f These statistical details find a piquant commentary in Swift's words writ- 
ten early last century : "The good of this is that the more sheep we have, 
the fewer human creatures are left to wear the wool or eat the flesh. Ajax 
was mad when he mistook a flock of sheep for his enemies ; but we shall never 
be sober until we have the same way of thinking. '' 



firkins, in 1847, it has reached 420,000 now, and the value of the 
butter exported is of a million sterling by the year. 

" Then with respect to those mud cabins which were formerly the 
great opprobrium of the country, and which excited the censure and 
condemnation of all travellers, and also the regret of all those public- 
spirited inhabitants who mourned over a state of things which they 
were not enabled to relieve, the mud cabins of Ireland amounted in 
Ireland not twenty years ago to 491,000. They have now diminished 
to 125,000." The continuation of emigration (continues Lord Carlisle, 
approvingly !) produces a rise in wages, and the success of the emigrants 
who become rich at the other side of the ocean is a powerful stimulant 
to excite their relations and their friends to follow them !* Again : 
" Of course," observed the same speaker, on another occasion, " when 
exile is occasioned by suffering and privation, it must be an object of 
regret to all well constituted minds ; but considered in its broad results, 
I believe that while emigration fulfils the general destiny of our [!] 
race in peopling the whole earth, it ordinarily will be found to improve 
the condition both of those who go and of those who remain." (Hear! 

These speeches, and the applause with which they are 
greeted, form a good sample of the ideas of English states- 
men, and wealthy landowners, upon the destiny reserved for 
Ireland. To supply England with butter and meat, and in 
order to this, to undergo an agrarian revolution calculated to 
introduce everywhere grazing and stock-breeding: as a neces- 
sary condition of this system to keep the population at a low 
figure, and drive to America or Australia what they are pleased 
to term the surplus, that is to say what would disturb the 
working of this cleverly conceived system : to enable English- 
men in this way to give themselves up, without uneasiness, to 
their immense manufactures, in the assurance of drawing from 
Ireland, together with round incomes, large supplies of excel- 
lent meat and prime butter : in fine to console themselves for 
the loss yearly sustained by Ireland from emigration in the 
conviction that it is the destiny of the Irish nation to people 
the whole earth: such are the secret springs of England's 
policy, and the sum of her designs upon Ireland. 

In the sixteenth, and even in the seventeenth, century, the 
rulers and parliaments of England were anxious to clear the 
oreen isle of its old inhabitants, in order to hand it over to a 
new people, having nothing in common with the superstitions 
and memories of Popery.J 

* Speech of the Earl of Carlisle, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, at Cork, 25 
July, 1860. 

f Speech of Lord Carlisle at Dublin, April 3rd, 1861. 

J " The favourite object both of the Irish governors and the English parlia- 
ment was the utter extermination of all the Catholics of Ireland." — (Leland ; 



Thanks be to God, this fanatical wish can no longer be con- 
sidered a summary of the political programme of the gover- 
nors of Ireland. Time has done its work, and to-day it requires 
for the perpetuation of this odious desire all the ferocious 
hatred and blind prejudice of the Orange party * 

No, we feel convinced that no minister of the crown would, 
in our times, venture to imagine or to state that the existence 
of a Catholic population in Ireland is incompatible either with 
the safety or the greatness of the Protestant Empire of Great 
Britain. Such narrow views, and such a sectarian policy 
would undoubtedly be repudiated by the good sense and 
natural uprightness of the English nation. 

But is not the same result being attained by means less 
perilous and less disgraceful when the highest representative 
of the crown in Ireland gives a periodical and unreserved 
approval to a system of management which progressively re- 
duces the amount of population ? Is it a sufficient justification 
of this huge conspiracy against the life of a nation that public 
opinion has momentarily been influenced by an attempt to 
prove this system conducive both to the advantage and happi- 
ness of all: of the English who secure a constant supply of 
meat, of the landlord whose rent-roll is swelled, of the emigrant 
who seeks his fortune beyond the seas, and of the remaining 
husbandmen, who get more wages and undergo less privation ? 
What a truly admirable system, which, by a singular and unex- 
ampled privilege, has been able to satisfy all requirements, to 
respect the rights and reconcile the interests of all, and 
without straightening Ireland, to further the prosperity of 
England ! 

But against this cry of triumph rises the indignant protest, 
not of the victims whose voice is hushed in the grave or 
unheard in the distance of exile, but of every man who does not 
reckon a nation's happiness by the number of horned cattle 
bred, and of firkins of butter produced. This avowal is made 
in these same speeches, which may be called the Official 
Apology for farm- consolidation and for the conversion of 
Ireland into one great model farm and one great model 
ox-stall : three hundred and sixty-six thousand families have 

III. 166.) "All the governments of England, whether the absolute monarchy 
of the Tudors and Stuarts, the Commonwealth, the government of the Resto- 
ration, or the Constitutional Monarchy, have entertained on this matter but 
one and the same idea : To keep the Irish from holding property in Ireland. " — 
(Leonce de Lavergne ; Economie Rurale; p. 395.) 

* " Ireland," said an Englishman a few years ago to a French traveller, 
"is a very unfortunate country, which will be very rich indeed when all the 
old owners are dispossessed and all the ancient inhabitants have disappeared." — 
(Revue des Deux Mondes ; April 4th, 1853. Article by M. Jules de Lasteyrie : 
p. 503.) 



disappeared! Will it be any consolation to those who have 
been forced to claim legal charity in the workshouses, or to 
find well-being far from their country, running a thousand 
risks of soul and body, to be told that those who remain are 
better housed and better fed, and that the manufacturing 
hives of Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham, and London are 
for the future sure of an abundant supply of meat and 
butter ? 

It is evident then that there is a great gap both in the speeches 
of the lord lieutenant and in the economic programmes of the 
agricultural societies formed by the large landowners. They 
overlook the cost of this apparent prosperity to so many poor 
families whose forefathers were undisturbed possessors of that 
soil of Ireland, and who now see themselves mercilessly 
driven out to make room for the breeds of Durham and Lei- 
cester. To allege the strict right of landlords to handle 
their property in the manner best calculated to secure large 
returns is by no means a sufficient argument. If to property 
are attached incontestable rights, humanity too has rights 
which are absolutely imprescriptible. You have it indeed in 
your power to use as you like those domains which iniquitous 
and violent confiscations handed over to your fathers: there 
is no law in tjie world to hinder you from driving off whole- 
sale the families of your old tenantry in order to replace them 
by two or three graziers.* Go on. Evict. The law is not against 
but for you. Attempts are made to prove that science is on 
your side. Encouragements and eulogy are lavished upon 
you from those in high places. But know that against you 
are the tears and despair of those whom your strict right 
hurries into exile or wretchedness, and that the gospel con- 
tains a curse against those who devour the houses of the little 
and the weak.t 

Those who view the matter in this light are, we are aware, 
accused of taking up a sentimental and conventional position, 
proved to be false by positive science. We have before us, 
however, a document drawn up by six Englishmen, who 
certainly did not undertake to write an elegy upon Ireland. 
Now these English statesmen — after having proved the par- 
celling of land to have been carried to an extent highly 
prejudicial to the interests of agriculture — after having shown, 
that by prudent and temperate proceedings the number of 
farms might be advantageously diminished, without any neces- 

* In 1842, in the county Meath, fifty -four families were evicted at one 
time, and replaced by three graziers. (Report of Poor Inq. Comm. ; Dublin 
Review; Nov. 1842.) 

t " Vae vobis qui comeditis domos viduarum !" — (Matth. xxiii., 14.) 



sary diminution of labour (since a vast amount of work re- 
mained to be done in'the reclamation and drainage of the marsh y 
and mountainous districts of Ireland), — expressed a fear that 
the proprietors were too exclusively pre-occupied with their 
personal interests, and not sufficiently so with the lot of the small 
tenants whom it would be necessary to eject."* 

" If the condition of the landlord," said these men of such 
sound judgment and such ripe experience, " and of those 
tenants who remain in possession of the soil are alone con- 
sidered, the change is undoubtedly one of unmixed good. 
But the situation of another class remains to he considered; that 
of the ejected tenantry, or of those who are obliged to give up 
their small holdings in order to promote the consolidation of 
farms" forced to betake themselves to the suburbs of the 
large towns, whither they carry with them misery and the 
vices usually attendant upon it ; and " what is perhaps the 
most painful of all, a vast number of them have perished of 

They state, as we have just done, that the evil results 
from the abuse of a right ; but they do not think the law 
ought to interfere to circumscribe even the unjust exercise 
of the essential prerogatives of property. They do not con- 
sider themselves bound in consequence to pass over in silence 
this abuse of right; and whilst supporting the theoretical 
excellence of the system, they do not hesitate to say that 
there is a manner of working that system, which, instead of 
procuring the public good, would become a source of misery .% 

Nothing gives a sadder confirmation to the prevision of 
these statesmen than the incessant evictions which during the 
last fifteen years have been effected in Ireland, and which 
have literally covered with ruins a country destined to be so 
wealthy and prosperous. 

* "The risk to be apprehended is not that the proprietors of land should be 
insensible to these considerations, but that they should, in some cases, proceed 
with too much rapidity." .... {Dig. of Ev.— Lord Devon's Commission: 
ii. p. 1127.) 

f Id. p. 1127. 

X "It does not follow that we should hesitate to expose the abuse." 

(p. 1129)— "A proceeding which under the existing circumstances 

of Ireland is often indispensable, may become a source of comfort or of misery, 
according to the spirit in which it is carried out." {Id. ib. p. 1131.) 



Before proceeding with this part of our subject it is but right 
that we should in the first place pay the tribute of our 
admiration to those generous and enlightened landlords who 
have not considered themselves authorized, in the interests of 
their estates, to sacrifice the dearest interests of their tenants' 
families ; who have effected the extinction of small farms only 
in the measure clearly indispensable for the good of the 
peasants themselves ; who have, in short, often amicably treated 
with their tenantry, in order to avoid evictions, and have given 
them the means of seeking in America better conditions of 

It is beyond a doubt that had such noble example been 
generally followed, many of the grave economical difficulties 
which Ireland had to face would have been solved peacefully, 
and with advantage to all concerned. To encourage the 
reclamation of waste land by advancing capital, and granting 
leases; to aid judicious emigration to foreign parts, and 
mitigate its rigours in cases where it was the only remedy for 
a fatal concentration of population on one point of the land; 
such were the humane and enlightened means of rendering 
acceptable to the agricultural classes a transformation which 
could otherwise so easily be interpreted as the effect of male- 
volence and a proof of the imputation always made against 
Irish landlords, viz., that of aiming at the extirpation of 
Catholicity in Ireland by driving far from its shores the native 

That unfortunately such has not been the case, and that, in 
a vast number of instances, indecent haste violence and 
brutality have signalized the " consolidation of farms," is 
beyond all question. Such is the substance of what even 
ministers have more than once felt themselves bound to avow 
in the House, whilst condemning in the severest terms the 
inhumanity of landlords. 

" It was undeniable," said Lord Grey,"* " that the clearance 
system prevailed to a great extent in Ireland; and that such 
things could take place, he cared not how large a population 

* House of Lords ; March 13, 1846. (Hansard's Parliamentary Debates.) 


might be suffered to grow up in a particular district, was a 
disgrace to a civilized country.' 1 '' 

In the House of Commons Lord John Russell terrified his 
auditors by going into the details of an eviction in which " a 
whole village containing 270 persons was razed to the ground, 
and the entire of that large number of individuals sent adrift 
on the high road to sleep under the hedges, without obtaining 
shelter even among the walls of the houses." 

During the single year 1849 "more than 50,000 such 
evictions took place; more than fifty thousand families were in 
that year turned out from their wretched dwellings, without 
pity and without a refuge," turned on to the high road 
without a shelter. These are the figures and these the words 
of Mr. Joseph Kay, an- English Protestant economist; and he 
accompanies them with this terrible reflexion : " We have 
made Ireland — I speak it deliberately — we have made it the 
most degraded and the most miserable country in the world . . . 
all the world is crying shame upon us, but we are equally 
callous to the ignominy and to the results of our misgovern- 

To detail all the evictions effected, even after that year 
during which fifty thousand families, making a total of 
200,000 persons, were driven off their little holdings, would 
be a task of too great length, and of saddening monotony. 
We shall confine ourselves to but a few of the most recent, 
which will prove that neither Lord John Russell's description, 
nor Lord Grey's stern censure of the „." clearance system" 
have prevented wholesale evictions. 

There is a sad uniformity in the scenes attendant upon 
them, in the despair which they evoke, in the distress which 
is the consequence of them, in the very ruins which remain to 
bear witness to what has happened. In whatever part of 
Ireland one travels, except that portion of the province of 
Ulster which is almost exclusively Protestant, one may state 
without exaggeration that it is impossible to travel nine miles 
continuously without seeing by the road-side the ruins of these * 
cabins which have fallen before the " Crowbar- Brigade ■." 
Even in the wealthiest and most populous counties these 
ruined dwellings, frequently in groups of ten or twenty, tell 
the sorrow-stricken traveller of the trials which have scattered 
their humble occupants. We remember seeing at Mallow, a 
town in the county Cork, one of the principal stations of the 
South-Eastern railway, an entire street which was nothing but 

* Joseph Kay : The Social Condition and the Education of the People; (vol. i. 
p. 315 and 313.) 



one heap of ruins. In the counties of Clare and Galway, this 
heart-rending sight is to be met with still more frequently ; 
and the visitor to this part of Ireland, supposing him to be 
unacquainted with its history, or of the standing vices of its 
social organization, would inevitably believe it to have been 
the recent theatre of a war to the knife, in which each hamlet, 
each street, each house had been besieged and taken by 
assault, and mercilessly destroyed by the savage victor. 

We do not remember ever to have been more forcibly struck 
by this impression than in the most western districts of Connacht. 
We were going over the promontory of Belmullet, in the 
barony of Erris (county Mayo), and had already seen many 
traces of the evictions effected there in such numbers within 
the last three years. Nothing we had yet seen, however, was 
at all comparable to the village of Blacksod, which until lately 
had afforded shelter to about a hundred families. In the 
summer of 1858 ninety of these families were evicted at one 
and the same time by their landlord, a wealthy clergyman of 
the Established Church. A most trustworthy eye-witness gave 
me the most harrowing details of this eviction. The work of 
destruction was done amidst the sobs and despairing cries of 
the whole village population. One of the poor creatures thus 
evicted was taken in the pains of labour, and obliged to betake 
herself to a cabin in which eighteen persons had already taken 
shelter. The affair became so notorious that even the Times 
consented to open its columns to a letter, in which the parish 
priest of these unfortunate people, the Rev. Patrick Malone, 
held up this cruelty to public indignation. 

The ruins of this village are now scattered upon the side of the 
hill. The street which divided the rows of houses may still 
be traced: portions of walls, stones blackened by smoke, show 
where the tenants' families once lived: the grass is already 
beginning to cover these ruins and to lend them an appearance 
of premature antiquity. Had the mine and the cannon there 
done their work, they could not have made greater ravages. 
Is property unable then to devise any other means of securing 
its rights, and inspiring respect for its privileges, than this 
inexpiable war and these barbarous atrocities ?* 

* "The cabins of the peasantry were pulled down in such numbers as to give 
the appearance, throughout whole regions of the south, and still more of the 
west, of a country devastated and desolated by the passage of a hostile army.'''' — 
{Irish Quar. Review; March, 1854, p. 106. ) Speaking in the House of Commons 
of the desolate aspect of the whole of the west of Ireland, Mr. Bright spoke of 
that part of Ireland as " those western counties wherein no man can travel 
without feeling that some enormous crime has been committed by the government under 
which that people live.'" (Speech on the Irish Regium Donum. House of Com. 
July 6th, 1854). It is among such ruins that one should read Goldsmith's 
touching poem of The Deserted Village. 



But what shall we say of the cruel system of those evictions 
which do not pretend to economical arguments ; evictions de- 
termined solely by political or religious motives? 

We have said, and we believe we have proved, that in the 
case of large masses of the Irish peasantry the right of voting 
is but a fiction, when it is not a humiliating servitude. In fact 
during general elections, or certain elections of local interest 
such as those of poor law guardians, eviction is permanently 
held in terrorem over the heads of those tenants who would 
take the liberty 'of acting as free men, and of freely using their 
rights of citizenship. 

Landlords are all the more irritated at seeing their tenantry 
act independently at elections, since for a length of time their 
will was law. A candidate proposed was a candidate returned. 
We know how tenants are led to the poll, and by what de- 
grading docility they purchase the right of labouring and of 

In presence of such threats, and of their consequences, 
those tenants are to be admired indeed who courageously obey 
their political conscience, and who, according to the justly 
celebrated saying of the humble Irishwoman, brave everything 
" whilst remembering their soul and liberty."* 

The sectarian antipathy of Protestantism to the old religion, 
to which the Irish have stood in spite of three centuries of 
persecution, transportation and butchery, has had a large share 
in bringing about the sufferings and oppression of the agricul- 
tural class. The terrible threat of eviction is a weapon fear- 
lessly used by certain landlords to further the remarkably slow 
progress of the Protestant religion, whenever the more insidious 
but equally sterile system of promises and bribes has found 
consciences inflexible. 

For many years there existed in Ireland „a regularly organ- 
ized society of Protestant landlords, the avowed object of 
which was to replace by Protestant families the Catholic 
farmers living on the estates of the members. 

We quote textually the terms of the association compact: — 

" Seeing that there are entire districts composed exclusively of 
Catholics; seeing that there is no other means of forwarding Protestant- 
ism in these districts than the substitution of Protestant for Catholic 
tenantry ; that it is a clear duty to introduce Protestant tenants into 
these districts, and this society will do its utmost to get a charter of 
approbation from government."! 

Under other circumstances Anglican proselytism is worked 

* Quoted ante, p. 21, note. 

f The society was called "The Irish Protestant Tenantry Society." See 
Oulton's Dublin Directory, up to 1841. 



upon a less vast scale. Its character is not the less odious, and 
the narrowness of its action neither makes it less barbarous in 
its proceedings nor less merciless in revenge. 

In 1855 a certain colonel bought an estate in the County 
Monaghan, sold by the Encumbered Estates' Court. One of 
his first cares was to build a school rigorously Protestant in 
teaching, although there was a very well ordered national school 
in the neighbourhood close to the estate. Then the bailiffs and 
the Bible readers visited the tenantry, and desired them to send 
their children to the Protestant school, under pain of eviction, 
in case of refusal* 

The most celebrated affair of this kind, both from the nature 
of the circumstances, the quality of the personages who figured 
in it, and the noise it made in the London and Paris press, is 
that of the Protestant Bishop of Tuam, Lord Plunket, and his 
Partry Catholic tenantry (County Galway). Three public law- 
suits ; a considerable amount of correspondence between Lord 
Plunket and the parish priest of Partry, Mr. Lavelle ; authentic 
documents handed over to the papers by the Protestant bishop 
himself ; speeches made at meetings held on this occasion in the 
most considerable cities of the British Empire ; all contributed 
to give prominence to a persecution, which has, during the last 
three years, been more prejudicial to the Anglican Church even 
than it was disastrous to those who were its victims. 

Let us briefly sum up this affair with the help of all the 
above-mentioned documents. 

A. school had been established upon the estate of the Pro- 
testant bishop and put under the direction of the " Irish Church 
Society" For some years the tenants yielded to threats. Their 
children, almost without exception attended his school. An 
entire generation was about to grow up under the influence of 
teaching hostile to the Catholic faith. We can easily under- 
stand the hopes entertained by the founders and first patrons 
of the school in presence of such success. The arrival of a 
fresh parish priest however brought swift destruction upon 
these hopes, and baulked beyond recovery, a system so inge- 
niously devised for noiselessly compassing the apostacy of a 
whole parish. Immediately upon his arrival in Partry, Mr. 
Lavelle represented to his parishioners the enormous respon- 
sibility with which they loaded themselves in sacrificing to 
temporal interests the consciences and faith of their children. 
But how could they make up their minds to brave the terrible 

* " The colonel must have children for his school or his land." — These were 
the words used by one of the bible -readers to one of the fathers of families. 
"Send your childreu to school," said one of the bailiffs to another father, 
"and all will be well." — (Evidence given upon oath before the judge.) 


threat of eviction? It was doubtless a cruel thing to put into 
the hands of Scripture-readers these young souls, and to see 
scattered among them the seeds of Protestantism, of that 
religion abhorred a hundred times by the Catholics of Con- 
nacht, to whom it is the summary and personification of all 
that the astuteness of Elizabeth and the sanguinary genius of 
Cromwell have invented of oppression and violence against the 
Isle of Saints and the faith of St. Patrick. But on the other 
hand, how were they to disobey, when their disobedience would 
entail such fearful consequences ? 

Is there a single Irish peasant, who after having chatted 
with his neighbours, amid the smoke of the turf fire (with the 
rain hissing, and the wind howling among the mountains), over 
the last Michaelmas' evictions, has not seen, at least as a 
frightful dream, his wretched cabin surrounded by bailiffs and 
constables : then the levers of the Crowbar-Brigade raised to 
strike and destroy; his little children cast half-naked upon 
the high road ; and the poor mother unable to warm them at 
her bosom, because the cold rain is falling and their is no 
shelter at hand ! 

The apprehension of such terrible distress was battling 
against conscience. Many Sundays went by and nothing was 
done. The pastor renewed his exhortations, and implored 
these peasants not to be less devoted to the faith than 
their forefathers. Still there was hesitation. A great and 
pious inspiration suddenly bore down all obstacles, and lent a 
spirit of intrepidity and self-sacrifice to these hitherto timid 
and vacillating souls. One day in the presence of the Blessed 
Sacrament, in the name of that love which the Saviour of man 
has testified for them in this incomparable mystery, the pastor 
conjured his parishioners to take pity on their souls and on 
those of their children ! Tears were the only response to this 
pathetic exhortation. On the morrow not one Catholic child 
took the road of the Protestant school. The master and the 
scripture-readers found it deserted. 

This courageous demonstration soon came to the knowledge 
of the Protestant bishop. It was resolved to beat it down by 
menacing the tenants with eviction. Not only did scrip- 
ture-readers and bailiffs go from house to house, but Lord 
Plunkett's own daughters, accompanied by the Protestant 
minister, made the round of the estate, and desired the tenants 
afresh to send their children to the school. On their approach, 
one of these poor mothers took her child, and ' hid him 
between the mattress and the bed. When she took him out, 
the unfortunate child was half-smothered and his face quite 
livid; nevertheless he had not betrayed his place of conceal- 




ment by a single whimper. By his courage he possibly spared 
his mother a weakness of which she would have afterwards 
bitterly repented. 

One peasant, named Prendergast, had not the courage to 
undergo this persecution. He began by refusing ; but when 
the " notice to quit" came, he yielded, and again sent his 
children to the school. Shortly afterwards, his conscience and 
faith got the upper hand. He unhesitatingly obeyed them. 
The avowal of his agony and his weakness, made by this poor 
peasant when examined, during the trial at Galway, (July 
1860), is incomparably fine and dramatic. 

" I am one of the tenants of his lordship, was Prendergast's 
sworn evidence; I am a Catholic, and I go to mass; and I 
mean to bring up my children the same. One day I saw the 
Protestant minister, the Rev. Mr. Townsend, and Miss Plun- 
kett, coming towards my house. I put a bundle upon the top 
of a box, and I hid myself behind ; the minister came into the 
house, and found me, and he told me that Miss Plunkett was 
waiting for me at the door. She asked me whether I would 
send my children to the school. I said that I would not. Imme- 
diately afterwards I got a notice to quit my farm. Then I 
was afraid ; for I have a large family, and they are not strong 
enough yet for work. I sent my children to the school. But 
X took them away from it soon. After that a bit 1 eat didnt 
do me good. I felt that I had acted against my conscience, 
and against God !" 

In this way notice to quit was served upon more than sixty 
families, because they had refused to do violence to their con- 

The execution of the evictions was delayed: for a moment 
it was hoped that this affair, which cast such a lamentable 
cloud over one of the most honoured names among the nobility 
of Ireland,* would be closed by some amicable arrangement, 
Protestants and Catholics rejoiced heartily at this prospect. 

The former were especially distressed at seeing one of the 
high dignitaries of the Establishment compromise by so odious 
a piece of oppression the authority both of his rank and his 
ministry. , These hopes were short-lived. In the month of 
November 18£K) the sentence of eviction levelled against four- 
teen families, comprising in all sixty-nine persons, was carried 
into effect. 

On the 20th of November a detachment of the 20th 
regiment and a large body of mounted and foot constables 

* The Bishop of Tuam is one of the sons of the renowned orator Lord Plun- 
kett, who at the close of last century defended the cause of Ireland with 
such marked talent and energy, and who on more than one occasion in the 
present stood forth, in the name of justice and liberty, as the champion of the 



assembled by order of the sheriff. On the 21st at nine o'clock 
in the morning this little army set out on its expedition. 

The sheriff advanced at the head of a few policemen towards 
the house of Edward Joyce, who was standing on the threshold 
of his door, with his wife and his four children. They were 
ordered off ; then the head of the Crowbar-Brigade arranged 
his men in order round the cabin ; the signal was given ; the 
crowbars were raised ; thug, — thush, — clank; a few thrusts 
destroyed the roof and walls of|the cabin. The same operation 
was immediately after performed upon a second, a third and 
so on for the rest. Poor Tom Lally tried to propitiate the 
destroyers. The house was his own; he himself had built it; 
he had brought the stone and lime for it with great labour over 
hill and dale. " No matter," rejoined the sheriff; " clear out ; 
constables to work !" As neither Lally nor his wife, therefore, 
would stir out of the house which they insisted on considering 
their own, three constables seized the wife, one by the hair, the 
other two, by the waist, and proceeded to put her out on the 
dunghill.* Six other constables seized the husband, and got him 
down, and knelt upon him ; and whilst thus held, he saw his 
house fall under the crowbar, whilst his wife, a really Christian 
woman, cried out to encourage him: "Thank God they 
cannot turn us out of Heaven !" 

The parish priest himself, in order to prevent useless resist- 
ance, prevailed upon the inmates of another house to withdraw 
and let the sheriff's band do its work. This family numbered 
ten persons, at the head of whom was an aged man. Shortly 
afterwards they were without house or home. 

On the two following days the same scenes were enacted 
with episodes no less harrowing. In one of the houses about 
to be destroyed was an old man of eighty, and a woman of 
seventy-four. The old couple were quite disconsolate. " Ah," 
said the poor woman, " here I am, at seventy-four, without a 
shelter in the world; I who never wronged anybody, and 
often opened my door to the poor and the unfortunate; what 
have I done to deserve this ?" " Peace, my dear," said the old 
man to her, with sublime composure, "peace; the passion and 
death of Christ was more than this." 

To the honour of the Protestants of England be it said, that 

* For all these details, both the preceding and following ones, see : 1st. Re- 
port of the Galway libel case ; 2nd. The War in Partry ; 3rd. A Letter of Dr. 
MacHale, Archbishop of Tuam, to Lord Palmerston, dated the 21st November, 
1860 j 4th. The Dublin News, of Feb. 14th, March 5th, Oct. 16th, Nov. 24th, 
Dec. 3rd, Dec. 11th, 1860, Jan. 12th, 19th, and 21st, 1861 ; 5th. The Liverpool and 
Manchester Advertiser, Sept. 15th, 1860 ; The North British Daily Mail, two first 
weeks of January, 1861 ; 7th. Above all, the Times of Nov. 27, 1860, and the 
Morning Star of Jan. 19, 1861. 



this terrible execution carried out in the name and by command 
of one of their bishops, raised from their ranks a universal and 
indignant cry of horror, and that they stigmatized in the 
strongest terms this piece of conduct. 

" Lord Bishop Plunkett," said the North British Daihj Mail, a paper 
generally very unfavourable to Ireland and Catholics, " may be a very 
conscientious bishop, and a very decent man in private life, kind in his 
domestic relations, as well as anxious for the welfare of his poor neigh- 
bours' souls, but looked at as a Christian minister, or as a landlord, it 
strikes us that he deserved, for his conduct in evicting the poor people on 
his estate for the causes stated, all the censure and contempt that can be 
poured out upon him. As the priest of a religion that required human 
sacrifices, Bishop Plunkett would be just the man to grace the office. 
As the lord over serfs, the cudgel or the thong would fit his hand 
naturally for the administration of the bastinado or the knout. . . . 
. . . It would be difficult to conceive anything more tyrannical than 
this, — more unbecoming a Christian minister, — more unworthy a man 

claiming to possess the common feelings of humanity 

Under any circumstances this act would have been an unjustifiable bar- 
barity. Just now it is almost equivalent to murder; and although there 
may be no law to punish such a crime, out of the general conscience a 
penalty should come to brand for ever the man who committed so monstrous 

a wickedness to be guilty of such an oufrage on religion 

andhumanity, simply because they took their children away from his schools, 
is a stretch of wickedness which no body but a bigot could conceive, and 
nobody but a savage perpetrate. It may be that Catholicism is a soul- 
destroying superstition. It may be that it fosters ignorance, laziness, 
and poverty. But whatever it is let us meet it and fight it fairly, by 
purer faith, higher knowledge, industry, and wealth. If we cannot 
vanquish it by these means, we cannot triumph over it at all. . . . 
Without going into the question of tenant-right, or any other question 
of Irish politics, — leaving all such matters to find a legitimate settle- 
ment at the right time, — we cannot refrain from entering our protest 
against such conduct as that of Lord Bishop Plunkett's. And whilst 
doing so, we cannot but express a hope that the newspaper press of the 
United Kingdom, of all shades of politics, would so speak out as to con- 
vince the bishop, and all such bigots, that such a wickedness as that 
which he has perpetrated will not be quietly tolerated by the liberal 
and humane men of the country."* 

The Times was not less severe in its condemnation of the 
Lord Bishop ; and it is easy to conclude that the scandal of the 
Partry evictions must have deeply humiliated the members of 
the Established Church when we see the conduct of one of 
its high dignitaries visited with censures so strong and so 
public. Delicacy of language is not the characteristic of 

* North British Daily Mail, Jan.,- 1861. 


English newspaper warfare, even when correction is adminis- 
tered to the best of friends. We therefore beg to remark that 
the fact of our quoting these English newspapers in no way- 
implies an unqualified approbation of the terms in which they 
speak : — 

" There are things," says the Times, " perfectly defensible and which 
it is accordingly dangerous to say a word against ; but when all is done 
and, conclusively defended, there remains a hideous scandal. Nobody 
ever yet succeeded in catching a bad smell, in bottling it, or weighing 
or measuring it, or proving its existence to a man without a nose ; but, 

nevertheless Now, we are sorry to say that the. evictions of his 

tenantry by the Bishop of Tuam 'are by no means a fragrant affair. . . ... 

A bishop had better sit down and die, or cast himself on the charity of his 
diocese, than figure to the world in the unseemly character of a wholesale 
evictor, collecting ' red armies,'' and ' black armies,'' and pulling down 

houses over the heads of their aged and long-settled occupants It's 

a matter of taste. There's no arguing upon it. We avow an honest 
prejudice against the use of a pickaxe and a crowbar by a successor of 
the Apostles. It can never be a necessity that a bishop should : handle 
such weapons, or authorize their use. A man may be a bishop or not 
as he likes. If he objects to the situation there are always plenty of 

men quite, ready to take it So, as a man is not obliged to be a 

bishop, and he has not to stand in the gap and save the church at the 
orders of a superior officer, it is no great hardship to him if he accepts 
the office subject to some trifling self-denials. The taste of the day 
does not allow a bishop to go to races, to drive a tandem, to hunt, to 
frequent the opera, to dance, to wear an embroidered waistcoat, to 
marry: much below his years or his rank, or to do many things which 
are at least condoned in other classes or professions. It's all taste. We 
hedge round the bishop with a propriety which makes large demands 
upon us, arid may make some demands upon him. We cannot help 
feeling that the crowbar comes under this class of restrictions. We 
may not always bear in our minds the imaginary crozier, but at least 
we expect an open palm and a gentle pressure — not a heave at the 
crowbar, followed by falling thatch and crumbling masonry, out of which 
some poor old couple escape into the waste around."* 

Two years ago another eviction, arising likewise from the 
hostility of a wealthy landlord to the Catholics, produced the 
greatest sensation in County Longford and gave rise to ques- 
tions in Parliament. It had been effected under extraordinary 
circumstances, and rarely had the arbitrary authority of the 
aristocracy assumed a more odious character. 

The hamlet of Gortliteragh, a few miles from Longford, 
possessed a parish church, for the construction of which the 
late Earl of Leitrim, father of the present Earl, a man whose 

* Times, 27th Nov., 1860. 


memory is venerated on account of his humanity and kind- 
heartedness towards his tenants, made a grant of land, without 
at any time requiring rent. He had enlarged the demesne 
of the presbytery by letting to the occupant a dozen acres of 
land at a very moderate rate. On his succession to the title 
and estates his son required that independently of the Presby- 
tery and its dependencies, special mention should be made in 
the lease of the ground upon which the church was built. The 
parish priest urged to no purpose that no rent had ever been 
paid for tne church. The result of the discussion was a notice 
to quit, served upon the parish priest, in which were comprised 
both the house, the land, and the church itself. 

The case was tried at the Leitrim assizes. The witnesses 
unanimously deposed that the church was built upon the spot 
occupied by it at a period beyond the memory of any living 
inhabitant of the parish, and that no deed had been drawn up 
touching it. Lord Leitrim's counsel discovered however that 
in 1811 the Rev. William Armstrong had taken out a lease for 
life in which mention was made of the ground occupied by 
the church ; and although after him laymen had rented the 
house and the adjoining land, although the parish priests, his 
successors, had never paid a penny for the ground in question, 
still this single clause in the lease of 1811 sufficed to induce 
the jury to recognize Lord Leitrim's right of ownership. 

In this case, as in many others of those adduced by us, 
natural equity was violated by adherence to the letter of the 
law. The judges were of opinion that considering the well- 
known benevolence of the late Lord Leitrim and all that he 
had done for the parish of Gortleteragh it was evident that this 
clause could only have been introduced through inadvertence, 
and that to take advantage of it was certainly a departure 
from the formal intentions of the late landlord; but the law 
admits no such interpretations: natural justice and good sense 
were against the plaintiff; but he had for him the letter of the 
law, and he demanded the benefit of it. The judges were 
obliged to grant it, and they passed a sentence conformable to 
his demand. 

In consequence of this sentence the sheriff, accompanied by 
the agents of Lord Leitrim, called upon Mr. Fitzgerald, the 
present parish priest, on the 5th of June, 1860, to demand 
possession of the presbytery, the land, and the church. 

Mr. Fitzgerald immediately left the presbytery and its 
dependancies. As to the church, he replied that he had no 
right to deliver it up ; but that if the agents of Lord Leitrim 
were determined upon taking it, they would meet 
with no resistance on his part. 


In the mean time, the parishioners of Gortleteragh and the 
neighbouring peasantry informed of the presence and demands 
of the sheriff, had assembled in considerable numbers. They 
declared that the church being their property, they would 
rather die than allow themselves to be deprived of it by a 
sacrilegious eviction. These words, and the threatening atti- 
tude which accompanied them, made the sheriff reflect a little. 
He concluded that he was not strong enough to be able to 
have recourse to force. Thanks to the protection of the parish 
priest he was enabled to withdraw in safety and carry back to 
Lord Leitrim an account of the results of his errand. 

The latter immediately decided for extreme measures. As 
the work to be done was to deprive of its chapel a population 
which despair might easily drive to violence, all necessary 
precautions were taken by him in concert with the authorities. 

On Saturday the 23rd and Sunday the 24th of June, 1860, 
detachments of the 15th and 30th regiments, with a picket of 
lancers and about 250 constables made for the village of 
Mohill, about four miles from Gortleteragh. This little army 
encamped at Mohill. The 250 constables set out alone for 
Gortleteragh: the 400 infantry and cavalry being held in 
reserve to act in case of need. We must say that in this case 
the conduct of the soldiers was highly honourable to them ; 
that they wenton this expedition full of shame ; and that the 
Protestants were not the last to testify their indignation and 
to say that they would not fire upon the people. 

Meanwhile the priests of the district, by order of Dr. Kil- 
duff, Bishop of Ardagh, went from house to house, preaching 
peace and resignation ; ordering the peasants, where such 
orders were necessary, to abstain from all violent demonstra- 
tion ; telling them, in order to secure the desired peace, that 
so long as they could offer up their prayers to God under the 
vault of heaven, it were better to lose a hundred chapels than 
to spill one drop of their brothers' blood. 

In the heat of the affair the Earl of Leitrim himself arrived 
at Longford from Dublin, whence he had started in the morn- 
ing. He found at the station a large body of constables, 
commanded by Captain Hill, which escorted him to Sutcliffe's 
hotel. They proceeded on foot to the hotel, and the cortege 
had to make its way through a dense crowd, which made the 
air ring with its threatening cries, and which, immediately 
upon the entrance of Lord Leitrim into the hotel completely 
surrounded it. The crowd was rapidly increasing by the 
arrival of new-comers, who had heard of the Earl's arrival : 
and notwithstanding their ability and energy, the constables 
had to abandon the idea of getting Lord Leitrim away secretly 



The Earl then determined on braving the danger : he got into 
his carriage ; seated himself between two armed servants ; and 
succeeded in getting out of the town without any ill-treat- 

The Longford Roscommon and Westmeath roads, which 
meet at Gortliteragh, were covered with peasantry, determined 
at any price to be witnesses of the sacrilegious usurpation of 
the parish church. On their arrival at Gortliteragh they 
gathered in an orderly manner round the church, armed with 
cudgels, and protesting they would not quietly see themselves 
deprived of what was dearest to them upon this earth. 

The parish priest, Mr. Fitzgerald, assisted by the neigh- 
bouring clergy, went incessantly from rank to rank among a 
crowd of at least 6,000 men, and besought them by the most 
sacred of motives, not to give way to any acts of violence. 
For a long time these efforts were useless. Numbers declared 
that they would fill the body of the church and that nothing 
but bayonets should get them out of it. At last these worthy 
priests succeeded in making them understand that their true 
interests ought to engage them to behave with moderation, 
and in obtaining from them a promise that they would remain 
silent and impassive spectators of the operations of justice. 

At half past twelve the military came upon the ground. 
At the head of the cortege marched a company of constables, 
commanded by a sub-inspector: next came the county in- 
spector, and a magistrate, followed by four companies of 
constables, and a detachment of the 15th dragoons. The 
under sheriff was in a carriage ; 300 infantry and a picket of 
cavalry closing the procession. Constables included, the 
number of executive present would probably have amounted 
to about one thousand men. Upon their arrival they were 
drawn up in order* of battle opposite the crowd, and the officers 
gave the order to fix bayonets. The under sheriff then 
demanded in the usual form possession of the Church from 
Mr. "Fitzgerald. The parish priest answered, as on the first 
occasion, that it was out of his power to put him in possession 
he having no right. After a short silence, the under sheriff 
went up to the west door, opened it, and entering with respect, 
declared that he took possession in the name of the Right 
Honourable- the Earl of Leitrim. One of his under agents 
then came forward and in the name of his master, was put in 
possession by the sheriff. A locksmith and his man were 
immediately sent for who nailed up the door and secured it by 
a chain and padlock. 

The most profound silence had reigned among the crowd 
during these operations. Upon their conclusion the troops 


withdrew. God alone knows the feeling of despair, and the 
burning emotion, which was manfully stifled by those present. 
Not a single peasant broke the promise made to the venerable 
pastor: the most majestic and impressive calmness was the 
only .-answer made to violence ; and not one of the actors in 
this sacrilegious execution was molested during their retreat. 

Some days later, this act of oppression, which reminded a 
whole parish of the worst days of religious persecution in 
Ireland, was held up to public indignation by several' members 
of parliament. 

Lord Leitrim did not deem it prudent to brave a sentiment 
expressed with no less vigour by Protestants than by Catholics. 
He stated in the papers, and got it stated by his friends, that 
he had never intended to deprive the parish of Gortliteragh of 
its church ; that he had simply meant to secure the recognition 
of his right Of ownership, which had been questioned, by using 
the solemn forms of the law. The little village church, for the 
conquest of which an army of a thousand men had been set in 
motion, was accordingly restored to the faithful. 

Has the promptness of the reparation blotted out the gravity 
of the insult? In the interest of peace we trust it has; and 
we have no doubt that the same Catholic clergy, whose autho- 
rity averted a bloody fray, has used its influence to secure 
the forgiveness of one of those abuses of power and authority 
which leave such rankling wounds in the breasts of the weak 
and the oppressed. But in what other country of Europe 
could a scene be witnessed such as that we have just 
sketched ? and shall we be considered too severe if we say, 
with an American economist, that " the character of the present 
system is so monstrous that it can be paralleled in India alone ;" 
that " a system better calculated to perpetuate barbarism never 
was devised ;"* and that " the present course of that legisla- 
tion" (which defines the rights and regulates the use made of 
property in Ireland) " is the most extraordinary that the world 
has yet seen, and proves the uniform tendency of injustice to 
beget injustice."! 

Might not the history of landed property in that unfortunate 
country be summed up in two words, and would not our 
estimate be borne out both by the past and the present ? It is 
at once the offspring and the parent of Confiscation. It began, 
in the past, by the violent dispossession of the rightful owners 
of the soil ; and but too often in our own times, it is upheld 
and strengthened by the appropriation, without compensation, 

* H. C. Carey, of Philadelphia : The Past, the Present, and the Future ; pp. 
387 and 383. 
T/A,t6.,'p. 38& 


of the toil the sweat the privations and the sufferings of the 
class that tills the soil. 

That such a system is directly prejudicial to the evident 
interests of property, and that landlords themselves have 
nothing but the greatest advantages to reap from a change in 
the condition of the agricultural classes, may perhaps be clearly 
proved by a short review of the consequences of the present 
system of Agriculture, in Ireland. 



We have already stated that, as a rule, the landlord hands over 
to the tenant nothing but the bare land ; that he advances no 
capital to push on the work ; that he does not even provide 
the necessary agricultural implements. What follows from 
this? "That the tenant brings into an undertaking neces- 
sarily requiring capital, nothing but simple labour; he farms 
badly, because he cannot command the capital necessary to 
farm well."* 

With few exceptions the tenant has no lease guaranteeing 
with certainty the security of his holding. He is aware (and 
the regular serving of notices-to-quit would remind him in 
case he forgot it) that he cannot count upon the future, and 
that he must be ever ready to leave the fields he has sown, and 
the little cabin he has built. Thus unless he have great faith 
in the "personal kindness of his landlord or the agent, he will 
as a matter of prudence abstain from every enterprise which 
would require any considerable lapse of time in order to 
refund his outlay. What a forced stagnation does not such 
uncertainty bring upon agriculture ? If she never steps out- 
side the beaten track of routine, whose fault is it? — the 
tenant's, or that of the system under which he lives ? 

Supposing the tenant in spite of this uncertainty be tempted 
to devote to serious improvements his money his labour and 
his time, it is be it well understood at his own risk and peril. 
For if all progress in cultivation and every visible improve- 
ment of the property be usually followed by a rise in the rent, 
we have already more than sufficient to dissuade the peasant 
from any kind of effort, and inspire him with a horror of all 

* M. de Beaumont, I. 134. 


progress. To what purpose, in fact, should he exhaust him- 
self in labour to secure abundant harvests, and starve himself 
to put by money, if the rent is raised in proportion to the 
progress made, and the improvements effected ? What a ter- 
rible logic is that which prevents a man from exerting himself 
to rise above poverty, for the fear of being cast into pauperism 
for his pains ! 

But if the arbitrary raising of rent is a cause of stagnation 
and ruin to agriculture in Ireland, what shall we say of the 
unrestricted right of confiscation so long enjoyed by the land- 
lord, and protected by the authority of the law, even in cases 
most evidently unjust? As long as this right exists both in 
principle and practice, can it be matter of surprise that the 
farm-houses are so generally wretched, as to be scarcely pro- 
vided with what is strictly necessary for tillage? Do we 
understand with what caution tenants, under a periodically 
renewed threat of eviction, will lay out money when they are 
in no manner sure of a return? Is it not a lamentable but 
patent fact, that farmers who save a little instead of capitaliz- 
ing these savings for the improvement of the land put them 
into the country banks at a very small rate of interest, whence 
the great speculators of England and Scotland draw them to 
push on agriculture in those two countries? Is it not a fact 
no less notorious and quite as deplorable, that utter poverty is 
feigned by the Irish tenant in more circumstances than one, in 
order to dissimulate the happy results of his labour, and that in 
the but too well grounded fear of having his rent raised, or of 
seeing the landlord tempted to seize, by simple eviction all 
that has been built or laid out upon the estate.* 

These fatal but inevitable consequences have escaped the 
attention of no one, and the apologists of the system are as 
little blind to them as its detractors. Instead, however, of 
attributing them to their real cause, they have sought to 
explain them away by throwing the blame upon the Irish, and 
have unanimously attributed the backwardness of agriculture 
in Ireland to the idleness the heedlessness and the drunkenness 
of the peasantry. They gravely declare that those vices are 
inherent in the Celtic race, and extol by way of contrast, the 
unconquerable energy, the perseverance, and love of work of 
the Saxon race, without however venturing so far as to boast 
of its sobriety. This is however but a sophism admitting of 

* A. venerable prelate related to us that in his diocese, an old farm servant 
on the point of death recommended his masters two things : 1st — Never to pay 
exactly the quarter's rent, and to be rather in arrear than otherwise ; 2nd — 
Never to present themselves before the landlord or his agent but in rags. In 
fact whoever pays regularly or wears decent clothes is too easily suspected of 
making money, and runs great risk of seeing his rent raised. 


an easy answer, and which in fact the soundest publicists both 
of Europe and America have already exposed. The faults of 
the Irish are not the cause of the evil consequences attendant 
upon the system : it is the system which prolongs the fatal 
reign of these faults. This important remark was long ago 
made ; and we have nothing new to say upon a matter in 
treating which numbers of authors have proved to demonstra- 
tion the fact we advance. 

" In the ancient chronicles of Ireland," says M. Gustave cle 
Beaumont; " we find that formerly love of work was one of 
the distinctive features of the Irish people."* 

Such was that people previous to the English invasions, and 
the conquests which wrested from them their native soil, and 
reduced themselves to a condition in which nothing encourages 
them to work at all. 

Such they still are, or such they become immediately they 
get from under a social system, which paralyses their activity, 
crushes their energy, and holds them pining and enervated in 
a fatal apathy, in which they are incapable of resisting the gross 
attraction of intemperance. 

An English engineer said in 1837 to M. Gustave de Beau- 
mont, from whom we quote his evidence word for word:| 

" I have been entrusted by the English government with the 
direction of public works both in England and in Ireland, and 
I have thus been obliged to employ by turns English and Irish 
workmen : I confess that after this double trial it would be 
impossible for me to award a superiority to either. 

"The Irish workman cannot be judged at the outset. He 
first begins by mistrusting his employer: he is continually 
under the impression that some advantage is going to be taken 
of him, and that he will be made wdrk without being paid. 
Hence his work is sluggish, unequal, and irregular, and requires 
constant watching: but when he perceives that the agreement 
made with him is honestly carried out: when at the end of 
each week he receives the fruit of his toil, and sees that he is 
being honestly dealt with, he then takes heart, and I am unable 
to express the indefatigable ardour, the constancy and punc- 
tuality, with which the unfortunate man works, who just before 
thought himself doomed to die of hunger, and who has found 
the means of living."! 

Send the Irishman to Australia, or to the United States, or 
to any English colony, observes Joseph Kay in the great work 
already quoted, where he can by work and industry become 


Vol. i., p. 342. t Vol i. p. 401: 

t See also the second Report of the Irish Railways' Commissioners, 1838, p. 84 ; 
and the Report on the State of the Irish Poor in Great Britain ; Q. Lewis ; 1835. 


some day a proprietor, and where he is not held enslaved by 
superannuated laws and customs, and he immediately becomes 
the most energetic and the most thrifty of colonists ; there, he 
becomes rich faster, he does more, and he works with a per- 
severance more indefatigable, than any one else so that, he 
adds, "he forces his. rulers to write home to England, as the 
Governor of South Australia did but a few years ago, that the 
Irish are the most enterprising, successful, and orderly of all 
the colonists of those distant lands."* Place an Irishman in 
the English army, or in the manufacturing districts of Eng- 
land, and you will invariably obtain the same results. " In 
the army he makes a first-rate soldier ;"f while in Lancashire, 
where he is sure of earning the worth of his labour, where he 
is not cheated or oppressed by the bad government which 
presses him down in Ireland, where he enjoys all that belongs 
to him in full security, where he is placed on an equality with 
the English workman, he becomes at once a formidable rival 
to the latter, and a workman of those that succeed the best ; — 
" all showing, that as far as the Irish are concerned they might 
be made and would certainly become the best of citizens if 
they only had the best of institutions under which to live."$ 

The Irishman is industrious and prosperous everywhere 
except in Ireland : this is the unanimous testimony of all the 
. English who have seen them at work in the colonies. § 

To this mass of testimony so decisive, and so disinterested, 
since not a line of it is borrowed from an Irishman, we shall 
add that of the celebrated publicist John Stuart Mill. 

We have seen men, says he, having the highest pretension 

* Joseph Kay ; The Social Condition of the People ; i. 8, 9. f Id. ib. p. 9. 

% Id. ib. i. 9. 

§ " They are industrious and successful everywhere but in Ireland." (Joseph 
Kay, i. 310). — Mr. Kay quotes from the Edinburgh Review of Jan. 1850, the 
evidence on this point of English, German, and Polish witnesses, before the 
Committee on Emigration : " The efficiency and success of the Irish emigrant 
in Canada is attested by Mr. Pemberton, and Mr. Brydone ; in New Bruns- 
wick by Mr. Peiiey ; in Nova Scotia by Mr. Uniacke ; in the United States 
by Mr. Mintern ; in Australia and Van Diemen's Land by Colonel Mitchell, 
Colonel MacArthur, Mr. Verner, Mr. Cunningham, Mr. Besnard, Mr. Justice 
Therry, and the Rev. C. D. Lang. A yet more recent witness is Count Strze- 
lecki, who observes, in his evidence given before the committee of the House 
of Lords on the Irish poor law : ' The Irishman improves in two or three years 
by emigrating to Australia ; he acquires habits of industry ; he learns to rely 
upon himself more than he does in Ireland ; he has an openness in his cha- 
racter, and shows all that he can do, while here he does not show it 

I saw Irishmen in the United States, in Canada, and in Australia, living as 
well as Anglo-Saxons, acquiring their grumbling habits, and thus improving 

continually their condition This difference may perhaps be 

more successfully traced to the consequences of the transplantation Sfrom a 
narrow and conlined moral and physical sphere of action, to a large? 'space, 
with more freedom and more cheerful prospects of life, and of which they have 
none at home.' " (Id. ib. i. p. 310.) 


to instruct their fellows, attribute the backward state of 
industry in Ireland, and the want of energy of the Irish in 
the amelioration of their condition, to an indolence and want 
of forethought peculiar to the Celtic race. Is it not a bitter 
satire on the way in which opinions become established upon 
the most important of problems relative to the nature and life 
of man? Of all the vulgar shifts to evade the study of the 
effects of social and moral influences upon the soul of man, 
the most vulgar is to attribute differences of conduct and' 
character to indestructible natural differences. What race is 
there that would not be indolent and thoughtless, if things 
were so arranged for it that it can have nothing to gain by 
being prudent and laborious ? The Irishman is not less fit for 
work than other Celts, such as the French, the Tuscans, or the 
ancient Greeks. Passionate organizations are preciselv those 
which throw themselves the most readily into great "efforts. 
Because certain human beings are not disposed to make an 
effort without any motive at all, it by no means follows that 
they are deficient either in capacity or activity. There is no 
workman that does more work than the Irishman in England 
or in America* 

The Irish moreover undertake to answer for themselves the 
unjust charges made against them in the matter of the faults 
which some take a pleasure in considering inseparable from 
their race. They not only work and grow wealthy in the 
colonies, but they earn and lay by enough to be able to send 
home annually large sums to their parents and friends left 
behind in Ireland.f 

Why then should the Irishman be irrevocably condemned 
to misery in the country assigned him by Providence ; since 
that country is wanting in none of those qualities which 
usually insure temporal success to individuals and to nations, 
and since the correction of the system of usages and laws to 
which he is subject would suffice to give free play to those 
qualities, and to produce in Ireland as elsewhere admirable 
results ? 

It is then the social system which the English conquest has 
established in Ireland: it is the management of landed pro- 
perty as inaugurated and fixed by the violent process of 
confiscation; the long and perverse tradition of penal laws; 
and the spirit of oppression and intolerance surviving an 
abrogated legislation ; which keep the mass of the agricultural 
and Catholic population in Ireland in a condition such that 

* John Stuart Mill ; Principles of Political Economy. 

t Farther on, in the book on Emigration, will be found some interesting 
details and figures upon this point. 


publicists of every colour, English, American, French, and 
German, pronounce it to be a disgrace to England. 

To render still more striking this demonstration touching 
the position in which an oppression of centuries has placed 
the Irish Catholic peasantry, we shall compare it with that of 
the Protestant farmers of Ulster, and that of the peasantry 
of other European countries. Nothing will more clearly show 
that the backward state of agriculture, and the wretchedness 
of the agricultural class in the Catholic portion of Ireland, are 
chiefly owing to the detestable system which rules landed 
property in that country. 



When the traveller, after having traversed nearly the whole 
of Catholic Ireland, from east to west, and compared with 
each other the three ancient provinces of Leinster, Munster, and 
Connacht, gets into the north-east region of the island, he 
is struck by the difference, evident to the least observant, 
which shows itself in the state of cultivation, the condition of 
the farmer, and the general appearance of the country. The 
counties of Derry, Antrim, and Down are, it is true, among 
the most fertile of Ireland ; but they are not naturally richer 
than the counties of Cork and Limerick. The latter indeed 
are preferable in a geological and chemical point of view; 
and nevertheless the greater part of the province of Ulster 
presents, when compared with the rest of Ireland, a contrast 
of which it is important to point out and probe the causes. 

Some publicists, particularly Irish publicists, have attributed 
this relative prosperity solely to the peculiar custom prevalent 
in this part of Ireland, called Tenant- Right. 

This custom originated in the colonization of Ulster, effected 
during the reign of James I. The enormous extent of land 
of which the Catholic inhabitants of this province were 
stripped, at one blow, was handed over to an army of English 
and Scotch invaders, who were simply desirous of getting 
rent from their new property without making any advance of 
capital, and most frequently without being obliged to reside 
in the country of which royal largesse had just declared them 
the proprietors. Too glad to find farmers who would under- 
take to cultivate these lands and pay the rent, they let out 


their property on terms highly advantageous to the tenant. 
The Ulster farmer was, thanks to these conditions, a kind of 
landlord ; liable only for an annual rent, and having the right 
to sell his lease to another, and to demand a consideration for 
the capital spent upon the property. 

^ This right, or more correctly this custom, for it existed by 
virtue of no written law, is what is termed the Ulster Tenant- 

It is not the publicists of Ireland alone who have boasted 
the advantages of a custom which generally puts the farmer 
beyond the reach of legal eviction and of the irreparable 
misery which it brings upon the agricultural class in other 
parts of Ireland. 

The Commission of 1843, whilst making reservations against 
Tenant-Right, in the interest of the absolute right of owner- 
ship, allows that in the districts where this custom is in force 
the general state of cultivation is far more satisfactory than 
in the others.! 

* We sum up this theory of tenant right (concerning which we gathered 
special information in those counties where it is still in vigour) from the 
Parliamentary document of the Devon Commission, already so frequently 
quoted : — 

" This custom dates from a very early period, having probably sprung up as 
a natural consequence from the manner in which property was generally 
granted and dealt with in that part of the country. 

"Large tracts having become the property of public bodies, or of indivi- 
duals resident at a distance, the landlords were well contented to let their 
farms to those who would undertake the cultivation and the entire management, 
reserving to themselves a rent, but making no expenditure, and exercising little 
interference with the land. 

" Under such circumstances, it seems neither extraordinary nor unreason- 
able, that a tenant quitting a farm, either at his own desire or from any 
difference with his landlord, should obtain from his successor a sum of money, 
partly in remuneration of his expenditure and partly as price paid for the 
possession of land which the new tenant would have no other means of 
acquiring." — {Digest of Evidence, Part II., p. 1119.) 

f " Anomalous as this custom is, if considered with reference to all ordinary 
notions of property, it must be admitted that the district in which it prevails 
has thriven and improved, in comparison with other parts of the country." 
{Digest of Evidence, II., p. 1120). " There is a spirit of industry and independ- 
ence among the peasantry and an energy in the manufacturing and commercial 
classes, superior to any other part of Ireland. The farmers, small and large, 
are more thrifty and more desirous to improve their farms than elsewhere. 
Education is more widely diffused, and the amount of social comfort is greater 
than in most other parts of Ireland." — (Jonathan Pirn ; Condition and Prospects 
of Ireland ; p. 49.) 

See also the long list of evidence collected by the Devon Commission : The 
evidence of Mr. James Sinclair, magistrate at Strabane (Tyrone) : of Mr. 
Francis O'Neill, ("I think the tenant-right has a very good effect both for the 
landlord and for the tenant,") : of Mr. Griffith, Government Engineer ; of 
Captain Cranfield agent of Lord Powerscourt (" I think there is a manifest 
benefit to the tenant, and in some respect to the landlord, whose rent is always 
secured") : of Mr Stannus, agent of Lord Hertford, ("I should wish to see the 
tenant-right upheld. It is that which has kept up the properties in the north 
of Ireland over the properties elsewhere.") 



This same Commission did not hesitate to say that a general 
or too sudden abrogation of this custom, or the too direct 
interference of the law 'in relations so long tolerated by it 
between landlord and tenant, would inevitably give rise to 
grave evils,* 

The Ulster tenantry looked upon this custom as a tradi- 
tional right, to endeavour to deprive them of which would be 
highly imprudent, "and which they would have defended in 
arras had any systematic attempts been made by the landlords 
to do away with it.f 

As early, however, as 1845 many landlords were known 
to be attempting the diminution or even the annihilation of 
Tenant Right on their estates: these efforts had been made 
chiefly in counties bordering on those where this custom did 
not exist; and since that time many new landlords, either if ter 
having bought off the Tenant Right of the occupant, or having 
explicitly disallowed this custom in the agreement, have 
succeeded in doing away with the privilege of the Ulster 
tenantry, and re-established in their entirety the rights of 
ownership which had been divided by Tenant Right between 
the landlord and tenant. 

A. custom analogous, but known by a different name, existed 
too in many counties of England and Scotland. Its dis- 
advantages, in an agricultural point of view, have frequently 
been compared with the advantages resulting from it. The 
chief objection to it was the high price paid for it; which 
was an enormous burthen to the in-coming tenant, drained 
at once all his resources, and left him without the means 
of meeting the most necessary expenses.! " '"■ 

* "Although we can foresee some danger to the just rights of property from 
.the unlimited allowance of this ' Tenant-Right,' yet we are sure that evils 
more immediate and of a still greater magnitude would result from any hasty 
or general disallowance of it, and still less can we recommend any interference 
with it by law." {Dig. ofEvid. ; II., 1120.) 

t "The disallowance of Tenant-Eight is always attended with outrage. 

If systematic efforts were made amongst the proprietors of Ulster 

to invade Tenant-Right, all the force at the disposal of the Horse-Guards 
would be insufficient to keep the peace." — (Evidence of Mr. Handcock, agent 
of Lord Lurgan in the counties Down, Antrim and Armagh, before the Devon 
Commission. ) 

% M. Leonce de Lavergne : Economie Rurale de V Angleterre, de VEcosse, 
et de Vlrlande ; p. 403. 

In its enquiry of 1843, the Devon Commission states that inmany districts 
of Ulster, the amount paid by the in-coming to the out-going tenant was fre- 
quently equal to ten, twelve, and even fifteen years' purchase on the rent. 
Hence the landlords were obliged to restrict this quasi-right of the farmers by 
watchfulness, and by a very lawful control over the transactions of tenants 
in this matter. In fact, how could it be expected that the farmer, who had 
paid over to his predecessor a large sum completely disproportioned to the 
supposed profits of his farm, would be able to pay his rent regularly ? 

" Proprietors generally have been enabled to place a restriction upon this 



It had also been ascertained, especially in Scotland, that, in 
a certain number of cases, the existence of this custom had 
given rise to fraud and chicane; it induced farmers to look 
rather to the indemnity they might get upon their out-goino, 
than to good farming in itself: and speculators, either more 
skilful or less scrupulous than others, had been known to shift 
from farm to farm, from compensation to compensation, and 
always pocket something by the change.* 

These disadvantages, together with the fact that Tenant-Right 
limits the right of the landlord, and subjects him to certain 
restrictions, have rendered public opinion in England and 
Scotland unfavourable to this custom ; and it is visibly declin- 
ing in Ulster ; because being founded upon no law, no written 
deed, it depended simply upon the good-will of the landlord, 
who is evidently interested in the possession and exercise over 
land and tenantry of the same absolute rights which are in 
force in the rest of Ireland. 

Is Tenant-Right, however, the sole cause of the relative 
prosperity of Ulster? Would its general abrogation imme- 
diately reduce the agricultural population of that province to 
the same disastrous condition as that of the same population in 
other parts? 

Irishmen generally answer this question in the most affirma- 
tive manner, without qualification of any sort. 

The problem appears to us however a more complex one. 

It is an incontestable fact that Tenant-Right has contributed 
to the well-being of the agricultural class and to the progress 
of agriculture. The adversaries of Tenant-Right, themselves 
admit it ;f and no one can be surprised at these results, since 
this usage secures to the cultivator important guarantees, 
restricts to the utmost the right of eviction, and in case a 
tenant is forced to quit his farm indemnifies him for his outlay. 
On the other hand it is certain that the abolition of this cus- 
tom deprives the farmer of material privileges, and increases 
indefinitely the rights of the landlord without putting into the 
hands of the tenant anything like an equivalent counterpoise. 

Is there not however another element to be taken into 
account, which will perhaps not allow us to attribute directly to 

Tenant-Right, so far at least as to secure a power of selection with respect to 
the tenant, and to place some limit on the amount to be paid ; wisely judging 
that a tenant who pays a large sum of money (part of which he probably 
borrows), in entering upon a farm, will be crippled in his means for the proper 
management of it. " — (Dig. of Evid. ; II. 1120.) 

" The terms of transfer are often high They vary from five to fifteen years' 
purchase on the rent." — Wiggins ; Monster Misery of Ireland, 

* L. de Lavergne ; Economie Rurale, p. 403. 

t See Eeport of Devon Commission already quoted. 



Tenant-Right so much influence for good, nor to its abolition 
so many consequences disastrous to tenantry and agriculture? 
Ulster, it is well known, is the Protestant colony of Ireland. 
In other parts the Protestants are thinly scattered, and as it 
were lost, among the Catholic population. There alone are 
they to be found in great numbers, forming a compact body.* 
In the other provinces the rich landlord is very generally a 
Protestant, and the majority of his tenantry Catholic. In 
Ulster it very frequently happens that the landlord and his 
tenants being of one race and one creed are united by the same 
interests, and connected by those relations of mutual confi- 
dence and good-will which exist in England between the 
members of the high aristocracy and their tenantry. 

We have seen how, in other provinces of Ireland, the ordi- 
nary motives of great evictions have of late years been, either 
systematic plans of farm-consolidation, or that political and 
religious rancour which puts the tenant absolutely at the mercy 
of his landlord. 

In Ulster the advantages of flax growing, one of the sources 
of the wealth of this province, prevent the landlord from 
seeking an increase of his fortune in the consolidation of farms 
and the extension of pasturages : and moreover the identity of 
political and religious interests between landlord and tenant 
excludes those fatal causes of eviction which work on so large 
and calamitous a scale in the rest of Ireland. We may then 
presume, that even without Tenant-Right the farmers of 
Ulster, at least the Protestants, would never have been sub- 
jected to the same arbitrary and oppressive system which 
weighs down the Catholic peasantry of the other provinces ; 
and that, supposing Tenant-Right abolished, although farmers 
would undoubtedly lose many considerable advantages, we 
may still believe that the good understanding between them 
and their landlords arising from a community of origin and reli- 
gious opinions would secure them from all the abuses which in 
other parts of Ireland originate in the antagonism of race and 

The space occupied by Tenant Right in the innumerable 
discussions originating in the complex question of landed pro- 
perty has in nowise diminished on this account: and we must 
confess that the adversaries of the present system were, in a 
certain measure, right when they contrasted the deplorable 
state of agriculture in the Catholic provinces of Ireland with 

* Whilst in Leinster, Munster and Connacht together, the Protestants 
(Anglicans, Presbyterians, and other dissenters) number only 426,471; in the 
province of Ulster alone they number 1,046,667. {Census of Ireland, for 1861, 
page 6.) 


the manifest and acknowledged results of Tenant Right in 

Neither were they less logical when endeavouring to expose 
in an irrefutable manner the deplorable results of the landed 
property system in Ireland, in the contrast made by them 
between that system and the one which has obtained in all the 
other countries of Europe. 

Let us sum up the very interesting considerations to which 
this comparison has given rise on the part of the most learned 
of contemporary publicists. 




Before going upon the Continent we must cast a rapid glance 
at the state of agriculture and the condition of the farmer 
and agricultural labourer in England.t 

The agricultural produce of the United Kingdom is esti- 
mated at about £80,000,000 (gross produce). England alone 
supplies five-eighths of this amount. The total, distributed by 
the acre over the whole surface of the United Kingdom, gives 
the following results: — 

England £8 per acre 

Lowlands of Scotland, Ireland and Wales 4 „ 
Highlands of Scotland . -. . .08,, 

results the difference between which, says M. Leonce de La- 
vergne, is explained in the case of Scotland by the irreclaim- 
able sterility of the greater part of her soil, and in the case of 
Ireland by her peculiar political and social situation X 

* M. Leonce de Lavergne calls attention to the remark of Mr. Campbell 
Foster] that Tenant Right produced in the county Down, one of the rich st 
and most prosperous counties in Ireland, results very different from those pro- 
duced by it in the county Donegal where misery was at its climax. In fact 
the population of the county Down is chiefly Protestant, that of the county 
Donegal chiefly Catholic. (In the county Down, Protestants of all denominations 
202 616 • Catholics 97,234. In the county Donegal, Protestants, 57,197 ; Catho- 
lics'l77 560.) Making allowance for certain material differences between the 
particular forms of this custom in the two counties, would this not go to prove 
that Tenant Right is not the only element upon which this question is based, 
and that political and religious influences also should be taken into account ? 

f We here follow M. Leonce de Lavergne in his Economle Rurale de VAngle- 
terre, de FEcosse, et de VIrlande. 

X Econ. Rur. p. 79. 



It is true that a large proportion of the English farmers 
have no leases, and live as mere tenants-at-will : still there is 
in that country a general disposition to grant leases, and even 
long leases* Moreover tenure-at-will has never produced in 
England the manifest mischiefs which it has entailed on Ire- 

To treat his tenantry liberally, in order to induce the tenant 
in his turn to use fairly the land he occupied, is evidently the 
interest of every landlord. To let to a tenant a strip of bare 
land, without tenement, outhouses, or agricultural implements, 
is as rare a case in England as it is a common and almost 
general one in Ireland.f Although in the system of tenure- 
at-will there is no lease to secure the future to the tenant, still 
he finds a guarantee in something better than a written deed : 
in those traditional relations, namely, of good-will and equity, 
which in England attach the farmer to the landlord : a power- 
ful tradition, universally respected, protected by that aristo- 
cratic honour of which the English nobility is so jealous, and 
which in a certain measure merges the distinction of classes in 
the unity of one same family. 

Thus, whilst the Irish tenant hides his money, when he has 
any, and instead of laying it out on his farm, puts it into the 
country banks at a low rate of interest ; the English farmer 
"invests his capital in the land with absolute confidence."^ . . . 
..." The small farmer who has but from fifty to a hundred 
pounds no more hesitates than the capitalist with ten or a 
hundred times the amount. Both the one and the other invest 
at the same time, most frequently on the strength of simple 
yearly tenure, to an extent which to us would appear enormous, 
and upon which among us proprietors alone would venture. "§ 

What encourages the English farmer is the evident interest 
taken by the rich landlords and the high-bred members of 
the aristocracy in the progress of agriculture and in the well- 
being of the families engaged in it. But too often, as we have 

* Economie Rurale, p. 120. 

t Letters on Land Tenure, by John. Geo. MacCarthy, Alderman of Cork. 
Cork, 1859 ; p. 8. 

t Economie Rurale, p. 120. 

§ " The farmers of England proper have about the same income from the 

lands they cultivate as our proprietors from the lands they own Hence 

the social weight of that class which is not less firmly settled upon the land 
than the class of proprietors. They are called gentlemen farmers. They are 
for the most part in modest but easy circumstances. This ease has been 
wrought by hereditary labour. They enjoy it as a fortune honestly but 
laboriously acquired. They do not care to become landlords ; their position is 
far better. To have £300 a-year income as a landlord at least £10,000 capital 
would be necessary ; whilst £3000 would sufiice to bring an equal income to 
the farmer." — Economie Rurale, p. 94. 



already stated, and in spite of a recent and marked improve- 
ment in this regard, the great Irish landlord is an absentee ; 
represented on his estates by an agent ; knowing his tenants 
only by seeing their names entered in alphabetic order in his 
books ; and only enough of his estates to be able to say they 
bring in such and such an amount per annum, — whilst these 
rents benefit but very indirectly the country whence they come, 
and the labourers who send them. 

The greater part of his time is spent by this same absentee, 
so imperfectly known to his Irish tenantry, on his English 
estates ; where he encourages by his presence, frequently by 
personal enterprise, agricultural labour ; and where he circulates 
in his immediate neighbourhood by the expenses of his 
establishment a good part of the income paid in by his 
tenantry. " In England," says M. de Lavergne, " the work of 
the towns pays for the luxury of the country. There are spent 
nearly all the treasures which the most industrious of peoples 
can create. A large share of it flows back into the cultivation 
of the ground. The closer and more assiduous the relations 
of the landlord with his estate, the more he is tempted to keep 
it in good order. Self-love, that great stimulus is at work. 
He does not want his neighbours to see ruined tenements, 
impracticable roads, tumbled down wains, ill-fed cattle, and 
neglected fields. Pride forces him into productive expenses, 
just as in other circumstances it drives him to frivolous ones 
by the contagion of example." 

The most illustrious members of the English aristocracy 
live the greater part of the year on their domains, where all 
the interests and destinies of the agricultural class are at 
stake: and certainly it is a powerful encouragement to the 
humble peasant to see a Duke of Norfolk, a Duke of Devon- 
shire, a Duke of Portland, and many others like them, give 
him a kindly wave of the hand whilst he drives the plough, 
and inquire with affectionate curiosity into his gains and his 
losses, and his hopes for the coming year; and to see them 
foremost in trying those new methods, or improved imple- 
ments, which facilitate agricultural labour. It is well known 
that the Queen and her husband* are amongst the foremost in 
giving that good example and in encouraging not only by their 
presence, but by their works the most useful of all industry. 
" Prince Albert himself manages a farm at Windsor, on which 
are bred and fattened the finest cattle in the three kingdoms. 
The show prizes generally fall to his stock. At Osborne, 
where she passes a considerable portion of the year, the Queen 

* This was written before the death of Prince Albert, which took place on 
the 14th December 1861. 


looks after a poultry-yard of which she is proud, and the 
newspapers lately announced that she had just discovered a 
cure for young turkeys attacked by the pip. That which 
among us is looked upon as ridiculous, is taken very seriously 
by our neighbours ; and they are right a hundred times over. 
Happy and wise among nations is that which loves to see its 
princes give themselves up to these useful distractions !"* 

The farmers and the general interests of their property are 
not the only objects of the intelligent solicitude of the great 
landlords. The day-labourers are also influenced very directly 
by the constant and enlightened pains bestowed by the land- 
lords on all that touches the working of the land, and the 
condition of the labourer and his affairs. " Public opinion 
requires the landlord to take paternal care of his day-labourers, 
to look after their instruction, and their moral and material 
well-being ; and the greatest lords make it a point of honor to 
fulfil this duty. Many of them put up roomy and healthy 
cottages which they let at a very moderate rent. Prince 
Albert, foremost in giving good example to all, exhibited 
under his name at the Crystal Palace, a model of this kind of 
building. A little patch of ground is generally attached to the 
cottage, where the occupant can grow a few vegetables. 
This is called an allotment/}" On all large estates the owner 
builds chapels and schools, and encourages associations of 
general utility."} 

Hence it is that agriculture in England is in such a flourish- 
ing state : hence it is especially that the greater part of those 
difficulties peculiar to the Irish system are unknown there. 
The landlords neither abuse their rights, nor are the tenants 
the victims of their own labour. The interests of the land- 
lord and the tenant are not in conflict ; they are ' a mutual 
support to each other, and the reciprocal confidence of the 
two classes will be to England,, should she one day have to 
face a social crisis, one of the firmest pillars of imperilled 

It has then with truth been said, and the dictum may serve 
as a synopsis of the comparison we have instituted between 

* Economie Rurale, p. 146. 

+ We remember having seen something of this kind on one of Lord Palmer- 
ston's large Irish estates, on the road from Sligo to Ballyshannon. A few years 
ago it was an uncultivated bog. This bog, reclaimed by drainage, is divided 
into small lots, each of which holds the cottage and garden of a tenant or a 
labourer. These small but neat houses, built on the same model, running along 
both sides of the road, and surrounded, by well-kept gardens, form a very 
pretty village. Lord Palmerston has also built a school there. How much is 
it to be wished that such an example were followed by all landlords ! 

% Economie Rurale, p. 195. 



the two classes, that: " an English farmer would almost cut 
his throat rather than take land under the ordinary conditions 
of an Irish tenant-at-will ;" and that " an Irish tenant-at-will 
would deem himself ' as happy as a king,' if he got the ordi- 
nary terms of an English farmer."* 

Close to Great Britain, the Anglo-Norman Islands, and par- 
ticularly Guernsey and Jersey, enjoy an amount of agricultural 
prosperity which has more than once excited the admiration 
and envy of Ireland. The situation of landed property in 
those islands, the state of agricultural labour, and the relations 
existing between landlord and tenant, possess enough of in- 
terest to warrant a few detailed remarks. 

To believe a certain school, the consolidation of farms, the 
extension of large estates, and a rapid decrease in population 
are the conditions necessary for the regeneration of Ireland. 

In the Anglo-Norman isles we find prosperity the most in- 
contestable, and of sounder character, under directly opposite 
conditions. At Guernsey and Jersey farms are so small that 
they are generally cultivated by the spade alone.t 

The farmers breed but few sheep, but they have an excel- 
lent breed of cattle peculiar to these islands. The greater 
part of the agricultural produce is sold and consumed in the 
interior of the country : orchards and gardens are very nume- 
rous there, and land fetches an astonishing price. According 
to a very reliable work on local statistics, published in 
1841, the amount brought in annually by the poor land in 
Guernsey is £2 the vergee, (a local measure) ; which would make 
£5 per English acre, and £8 per Irish acre. The amount 
brought in by good land is estimated at £3 per vergee; or say 
£8 the English acre, and £13 the Irish acre. In the vicinity 
of towns the price of land is still higher .% 

It is true that since the publication of these statistics the 
Repeal of the Corn Laws has deprived the farmers of the 
Anglo-Norman islands of their commercial privileges, and that 
the free competition of foreign produce in their markets must 
have lowered the price of land. Some go so far as to pretend 
that in consequence of this commercial revolution, and of the 
potatoe disease, the price of land has fallen twenty-five_ per 
cent. Taking however all these circumstances into consider- 
ation, it is still certain that the farmers of these isles are in a 
prosperous condition, and that land fetches a high price there. 

* Letters on Land-tenures, p. 8. _ 

t Mr. Scully, M.P. for Cork Co. Extracts from his book were quoted in the 
Dublin 'Telegraph of Feb. 25th, 1852. A1 , , • , 

j " Incredible as these statements may perhaps seem, they have been seriously 
made by experienced writers, well acquainted with Guernsey, and who have 
stated them as facts familiarly known." (Work last quoted.) 


The population of Guernsey, which in 1841 was 26,706, 
amounted in 1851 to 29,732 : that of Jersey increased during 
the same period much more rapidly, having risen from 47,556 
to 57,155, an increase which has been continuous, and from 
which the prosperity of the country has in nowise suffered. 

In Jersey and Guernsey there are poor indeed ; but they 
are liberally relieved, either at home or in the workhouses set 
apart for their reception; and beggars are nowhere to be 


Not only is the population of these islands able to provide 
abundantly for its wants, but in the crisis which Ireland has 
passed their inhabitants came forward eagerly and generously 
to the assistance of their unfortunate neighbours-! 

It is of importance to bear in mind that, in these islands, the 
greater part of the soil belongs to yeomen ; who cultivate the 
land themselves. A number of farmers also without being 
absolutely landlords enjoy a right of quasi-ownership by per- 
petuity of tenure, and simply pay a rent, either fixed, or fluc- 
tuating according to the market price of wheat;! and all, both 
landlords and farmers, live in comfort, bring up their families 
respectably, and boldly enter upon improvements for which 
they are certain to be largely remunerated. § 

" These islands in fine," we may state with Mr. Leonce de 
Lavergne,|| "have neither to govern themselves administra- 
tively nor executively, nor to defend themselves ; their only 
business is to be happy, and they are happy : a small and mo- 
notonous happiness if you will, but old and respectable. They 
have shone neither in the arts in politics, nor in war ; their 
part is a more modest one. Industrious and peaceful lives, 
they are an instance of what may be done in the end by un- 
shackled labour." 

Such is the result, standing at the very door of Ireland, of 
an enlightened system of agriculture : such the natural conse- 
quences of work done in liberty and security, and according 
to the old benediction of God, giving joy and abundance to 

* "A beggar in Guernsey is a being of a past age" ; a remark 

already made by an author as early as the seventeenth, century, " There is nob 
one beggar to be seen in the island." (Dr. Heylin, in a description of these 
islands published in 1652.) 

t The island of Guernsey alone figures in the subscriptions of 1847 in favour 
of starving Ireland for £3000. 

% "This annual interest constitutes a fixed or fluctuating income, payable to 
the owner in the nature of a money or of a corn-rent." (Mr. V. Scully.) 

§ "He is sufficiently educated to be able to read and write. He and his 
family are well clad, with a good house and homestead, and a small capital 
either laid by or invested in the purchase of his farm. In few parts of the 
world is there greater comfort among all classes." {Id. ib.) 

|| Economie Eurale, p. 308. 


those who have borne the burthen of the day and the heat, 
and watered the furrows with their sweat.* 

Let us now cross the strait which separates the British islands 
from the continent, and make a few inquiries from the publi- 
cists who have made the social state of the agricultural classes 
of Europe the object of their special study. 

This grave and interesting question has been gone into in 
an especial manner by a learned Englishman, Mr. Joseph 
Kay, to whom the University of Cambridge confided the mis- 
sion of travelling through Europe, in order to examine closely 
the social condition of the agricultural and working classes, 
and the different systems of popular education. After having 
visited England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, Mr. Kay tra- 
velled during eight years in Prussia, Saxony, Austria, Bavaria, 
Wurtemburg, the Duchy of Baden, Hanover, the Duchy of 
Oldenburg, Lombardy, Switzerland, France, Belgium, and 
Holland. f 

The amount and weight of the evidence brought by this 
publicist to bear upon his personal observations, and the strik- 
ing unison between his conclusions and these of other authors, 
whether French, Swiss, or German, who have studied this same 
problem, give to the results of his laborious and intelligent 
investigation a very high value. 

The conclusion adopted by the learned master of arts of 
Cambridge, as the summary of his enquiry, is much as follows : 

Wherever the old feudal laws have ceased to govern landed 
property and to exclude from the direct possession of the soil 
the mass of the agricultural population, — there especially 
where the peasant is personally and individually interested in 
the development of the earth's resources by his labour, — 
agriculture is in a flourishing condition ; the labouring classes 
are comfortably housed, clothed, and fed; and the whole 
country is sensibly benefitted in the matter of well-being, 
riches, education, and morality. 

Two neighbouring German countries, Saxony and Bohemia, 

* " Hoc itaque visum est mini bonum ut comedat quis et bibat et fruatur 
Isetitia ex labore suo, quo laboravit ipse sub sole numero dierum vitse suae, quos 
dedit ei Deus, et heec est pars illius. 

" Et omni homini cui dedit Deus divitias atque substantium, potestatemque 
ei tribuit ut comedat ex eis, et fruatur parte sua et lsetetur de labore suo : hoc 
est donum Dei." (Eccl. v., 17, 18.) 

+ "I undertook the greater part of these journeys in order to examine the 
comparative conditions of the peasants and operatives in these several coun- 
tries, the different modes of legislating for them, and the effects of these differ- 
ent modes of legislation upon their character, habits, and social condition." 
(Vol. i., p. 5.) 

The celebrated English political economist, Mr. John Stuart Mill, availed 
himself largely of Mr. Kay's book in the second part of his " Principles of Po- 
litical Economy /" (ch. vi. vii. and viii.) 



afford an opportunity to the traveller to compare, as it were at 
a single glance, the two systems : 

When we pass the Saxon frontier, says Mr. Kay, we find 
ourselves surrounded by a crowd of beggars of the most 
miserable appearance, who remind us most forcibly of what we 
see in Ireland : the peasants who do not beg are very badly 
clothed, wear neither shoes nor stockings, and are often covered 
only with rags; their dwellings are very small and in bad 
condition ; generally the villages are but collections of miserable 
wood cabins, in which the families of the peasants swarm pell- 
mell ; the land itself is but half cultivated. 

In Saxony, on the other hand, mendicancy is rare; the 
houses of the peasants are roomy, well built, of more than one 
story, whitewashed, and kept in good order ; the children are 
clean and suitably dressed ; the land is perhaps better cultivated 
there than in any part of Europe ; and the condition of the 
cultivators is of the most prosperous that can be seen. 

And whence comes this contrast? ... In Saxony the feudal 
laws, especially those of substitution, have disappeared; the 
peasants are proprietors of the land they cultivate, and have 
an interest in making it produce the utmost possible. 

In Bohemia the land belongs to a few great families, who 
get it managed by their Agents, and confine themselves to the 
receipt of their rents, which they then spend at Vienna. " The 
peasants of Bohemia, therefore," concludes Mr. Kay, " like the 
peasants of Ireland feel no interest in the soil or in its proper 
cultivation, as they derive no benefit from it, and as they are 
deprived of any chance of acquiring land, and of raising them- 
selves in the social scale ; while those who can think at all are 
exasperated by seeing the fruits of their labour and of their 
country spent among strangers at Vienna."* 

Another country of Germany, Prussia, changed her system 
during the beginning of the present century ; and nothing is 
better calculated than such a change to show the manner in 
which a country is affected by the laws, the constitutions, or 
the usages which govern landed property there. 

Up to the year 1805, the landed property system in Prussia 
was analogous to that which obtains to-day in Ireland. The 
land was exclusively in the hands of a very wealthy and very 
scanty aristocracy: under it the mass of the agricultural 
population laboured simply for the benefit of the large land- 
owners. Under these conditions the progress of agriculture 
was so slow that on several occasions the government was 
obliged to make large advances of capital to the landlords, in 
order to enable them to try better methods of farming. 

* The Social Condition, &c. ; vol. i., p. 13. 



According to the Minister Stertzberg, Frederic II. advanced in 
this manner, between the years J 763 and 1786, over twenty- 
four millions of thalers; and, in spite of this amount of 
encouragement, agriculture remained in a state of utter 
stagnation. The enlightened and energetic measures of the 
ministers Stein and Hardenberg wrought in Prussia a peaceful 
but profound revolution, and created a class of peasant land- 
owners. The face of the country immediately changed; the 
peasants, directly interested in the fertility of these vast plains, 
spared neither labour nor money. They very quickly under- 
stood that the best use they could make of their savings was to 
invest them in the improvement of the land. Produce in corn 
and kine rapidly increased ;* the population gained in number as 
it gained in well-being ; and Prussia was not reduced to boast of 
a social prosperity such as that boasted of for Ireland, a 
prosperity bought by the death or emigration of many millions 
of men. 

In certain parts of Switzerland the partition of land into 
small lots has brought about results still more surprising. In 
the Canton of Zurich the state possessed vast domains which 
were split up and sold to the peasants. Messrs. Knonau and 
Pupikofer both agree in their statements, that since the intro- 
duction of that measure a third or even a quarter of those 
large domains produces as much corn and feeds as many head 
of cattle as did the whole under the former svstem.f 

The change evident in France has been neither less radical 
nor less fruitful, since the disappearance of feudal servitude, 
and since the majority of those who used to till for others 
have themselves become owners, and reap directly the fruits 
of their labour. 

" The land of France," said the German Reichensperger, a 
dozen years ago, " nourishes at the present day 34 millions of 
people in a better manner than it used to nourish 25 millions 
before 1789 "J 

What would not have been in France the strides of agricul- 
ture, had it not been for the continual wars of the Republic 
and the First Empire, in which perished a million of men 
suddenly torn away from the labour of the fields for the more 

* In 1805 the corn crops amounted to forty-four millions of bushels ; in 1861 
to sixty- eight millions. (Dieterici's Statistics of Prussia, quoted by Mr. 
Joseph Kay, I. p. 121). 

t ' ' Very often a third or a fourth of the land which formerly belonged to 
the state, and was let out to farmers, produces at present as much corn and 
supports as many head of cattle, as the whole estate formerly did, when it was 
cultivated by leasehold tenants."— (Gemulde der Schweitz; quoted by Mr. 
Kay, I. 245.) 

$ Quoted by Kay; I. 328. 


glorious but more sterile work of military conquest? Return- 
ing modestly to the plough, the children of these heroes 
betook themselves with ardour to their great and noble work: 
they reduced the amount of waste land, and they have learned 
and applied better and surer methods of fertilising the land : 
they are beginning to turn manufacture to the benefit of 
agriculture ; and the generous land of France is rendering a 
hundred fold the sweat that waters it. 

There are undoubtedly shadows in this smiling picture : the 
love of the peasant proprietor for his little piece of land may 
degenerate, we know, into selfishness and cupidity ; and it is 
not altogether certain that the sacred laws upon which God 
wished the existence of the family to be based are not gravely 
outraged by this excessive love of property: but is there any- 
thin a- good, useful, or even holy which has not been abused 
by men ? Who would pretend to restore the feudal system on 
the pretext that the run of modern institutions opens the door 
to more than one bad or unjust passion? And for the rest 
whether people will it or will it not, this system carried away by 
the storm of revolution is irretrievably lost : such laws and such 
usages will never again regulate the dealings of man and man. 

Men now desire, and they are right, that the labourer be 
henceforth no serf " taillable et corveable a merci?* doomed to 
uniutermitting exhaustion in order to support by his privations 
and his misery the luxury of a few great families. If such 
be the system of landed property in Ireland, that system can 
no longer hold together. It is seared with such a brand of 
injustice as will sooner or later force it to disappear. To work, 
but to enjoy both for oneself and one's own a fair 
amount of profit for one's own work, (since these two 
things are correlative, and since the arbitary will of man must 
not separate two things between which God has established a 
necessary bond) ; to work, but with the possibility of bettering 
one's lot, and of bringing up one's family properly, (since the 
labour which does naught but grind down whole generations 
in irremediable wretchedness, is a grave disorder for which 
Providence is not responsible, and which is solely the result of 
human passion and crime) ; such is the law, at once old and 

* Let us remember the picture drawn by La Bruyere of the agricultural 
classes in the reign of Louis XIV : " We see certain wild animals, male and 
female, scattered over the country ; black, livid, all burnt by the sun ; attached 
to the earth, which they dig with invincible obstinacy ; they have a sort of 
articulate voice, and when they rise up on their feet they show human features, 
and in fact they are human beings ; they retire at night into dens, where they 
live on black bread, roots, and water ; they spare other men the trouble of 
sowing, of tilling, and of reaping for their food, and thus they deserve not to 
be in want of the bread they have sown." — {De T Homme.) 



new, upon which are for the future grounded the relations of 
the working classes with the higher classes of society. Where- 
ever this law is violated, there is disorder, public calamity and 
restlessness throughout the whole framework of society. 

The system of tenures in Ireland was then damned both by 
its deplorable results, and by the comparison which it was im- 
possible not to institute between the social state of Ireland and 
that of other countries. The greatest men in England were 
deeply humiliated at being obliged to own that the saying of 
Sir John Davies, attorney-general of James I., current in the 
beginning of the seventeenth century, could in all truth be 
applied to the Ireland of the nineteenth century : the Irish 
labourer is, he said, "more miserable than a bond slave ; because 
the bond slave was fed by the lord, but in this case the lord 
was fed by the bond slave." 

They themselves proclaimed with noble frankness that Ire- 
land was the disgrace of the British empire ;* and that it was 
humiliating to think that " there was not a foreigner, no matter 
whence he came, be it from France, Russia, Germany or 
America — there was no native of any foreign country, different 
as their forms of government might be, who visited Ireland, 
and who on his return did not congratulate himself that he 
saw nothing comparable to the condition of that country at 

It was not enough, however, to condemn and stigmatize this 
system with a severity of language which does honour to Eng- 
lish conscientiousness and honesty; the main point was to 
devise and administer a remedy. Public opinion was every- 
where shocked, in England as well as on the Continent: it 
was a matter of urgency to give satisfaction other than is to 
be found in sterile speeches and protests. 

What was to be done ? What embarrassment and perplexity 
was there not in a question in which it seemed impossible to 
redress the grievance of one class without violating the rights 
of another? and was it not then a piece of unpardonable rash- 
ness to broach publicly a point of such moment, and to unveil 
the revolting abuses of ownership in an age when the primary 
principles of social order were questioned, or denied, with the 
most flagrant audacity ? 

Two distinguished foreign publicists Mr. Von Raumer and 
Mr. de Sismondi, had gone to the very marrow of the problem. 
Considering the origin of landed property as it exists at the 
present day in Ireland, — that is to say a confiscation repeated 

* " Ireland is our disgrace j" (speech of Lord G-rey, in the House of Lords, 
March 23rd, 1846.) — {Hansard'' s Parliamentary Debutes, vol. lxxxiv. p. 1345.) 
j- Same speech. 



three or four times in contempt of every right, and by the 
most infamous of means ; — considering especially the results to 
the ancient race of that violent dispossession ; — they did not 
hesitate to say that all leases ought to be abolished and the 
farmers made proprietors in fee* 

These two publicists had however no legislative mission to 
fulfil in the case of Ireland. The members of the British 
cabinet certainly cannot be blamed for having quailed before 
a bold measure, the effect of which might so directly influence 
the whole system of English institutions. Doubtless the ances- 
tors of the present owners had been enriched by spoils violently 
torn away from the rightful lords ; and their right had been 
simply that of the stronger who seizes the property of the 
weaker. Property in Ireland was vitiated in its origin to a 
greater extent than in any other land in Europe, and bore a 
stain which time has not effaced: but would it be just to ruin 
the descendants of Elizabeth's favourites or Cromwell's troopers, 
under the pretext that two or three centuries ago their fathers 
had entered upon the possession of ill-gotten wealth ? 

Were such a principle current, and were the right of reta- 
liation of present upon past generations admitted into the code 
of nations, what society would escape the most fearful of 
catastrophes? What would history become, but a long and 
bloody catalogue of social vendettas? Have men nothing more 
to the purpose to do than to cast in one another's teeth, with a 
sword in one hand, and a revolver in the other, the crimes of 
their fathers? 

But, between a revolution so profound and radical as would 
have been inaugurated by the systems of Messrs. Von Raumer 
and Sismondi, and the unqualified maintenance of the present 
system with all its abuses and deplorable consequences, some 
mean was certainly to be looked for, by which without violently 
ejecting the landlords the position of the tenant might be 

What attempts have been made in this direction? What 
positive measures has the English Government taken to eradi- 
cate the vices and prevent the abuses of ownership as existing 
in Ireland ? 

* This is equivalent to saying : Ireland has been robbed ; restitution must be 
made to her. (M. Von Raumer, VAngleterre en 1835 : M. de Sismondi : Etudes 
sur VEconomle Politique ; vol. i. p. 331.) The latter, slightly less radical than Mr. 
Von Raumer, would have the right of the Irish landlords changed into a right 
to a perpetual rent ; and he lays down as a principle that the right of the legis- 
lature to regulate the conditions of the contract between landlord and tenant, 
and consequently to set limits to the rights of ownership, is perfectly incontest- 
able. This is, after all, but what was done in Prussia by M. Von Hardenberg ; 
(see M. de Beaumont, vol ii. : notes, p. 327.) 



There are two such measures. 

1st. The establishment of the Incumbered Estates Court. 

2nd. The bill of 1860, known by the name of " The Landed 
Property Improvement Act." 

What is the value of these two measures? what results have 
been, and what are likely to be, obtained by them ? What 
efficacious change have they brought about in the condition of 
the tenantry ? What benefits are likely to be the result of 
them to the landlord, the tenant, to agriculture, and to the 
general situation of the country ? 

In the following chapters we shall attempt an answer to 
these new and important questions. 



Up to within the last few years the existence of moderate and 
small properties was absolutely out of the question in Ireland. 
The disadvantages arising out of the concentration of great 
estates in a small number of hands were manifest ; but these 
disadvantages appeared irremediable by reason of the civil 
laws, which being enacted in favour of the aristocracy were 
radically preventive of the partition of the soil, and kept land 
out of the market.* 

The laws ruling landed property in Ireland, identical with 
those which govern it with England, hedged in all trans- 
actions touching real property with obscurities and difficulties 
of every kind.f 

* M. de Beaumont, vol. II., p. 175. 

*f* Up to the xvii. century, land in Ireland was not subject to the ordinary- 
feudal laws, but to an old national custom, called Gavel-kind, by which, upon 
the death of the father, the lands were divided among all the children without 
any privilege to the eldest son. This custom obtained in early times among 
all the Breton tribes ; and in England, in the county Kent, the equal division 
of the land among all the children is accordingly a principle of common law. 
In 1605, during the reign of James 1st, Gavel-kind was abolished in Ireland 
by a decision of the Court of King's Bench, and replaced by the ordinary rules 
of feudal succession. A century later, a law of Queen Anne (2 Anne, c. vi., § 10), 
indirectly restored the ancient usage of Gravel-kind in the case of Catholics. The 
end in view was to split up indefinitely the little property still in the hands 
of the Catholics, in the hope that thus their lands would be insufficient to sup- 
port them ; which result, joined to an exclusion from all public offices, would 
deprive them of the means of subsistence. This law was repealed only in 1778 
by an act of Parliament, which once again gave Catholics the benefit of the 
Common Law. (Lingard's Hist, of Eng., L, 465 ; IV. 570; Moore's Hist, of frel., 
I. 139, III. 149; Haverty's Hist, of Irel., 497, 683, 706; Burke's Works ; M. 
Gustave De Beaumont, I., 119 and 153). 



In England the thickest darkness covers the title of pro- 
perty, and the purchaser has no means of assuring himself 
that the property he is about to buy really belongs to the 
seller. Landed property is only transferred under private 
seal ; public deeds are unknown ; and nothing is easier than 
for a proprietor " to sell to one an estate mortgaged to a 
second, and already given away to a third."* 

Favourable to aristocratic pride, by permitting it to conceal 
under a feigned splendour the humiliating reverses of fortune, 
the secrecy of these contracts is an immense obstacle to the 
ready transfer of land. The purchaser having no guarantee 
but the word of the vendor, and not being sure that the mor- 
row will not see a third person step forward and claim in 
virtue of a mortgage or a gift the estate he has just bought, 
one can easily understand how he hesitates to close a bargain. 
Such a state of things is manifestly destructive to all facility 
of transfer in the matter of real property : consequently a man 
desirous of speculating and increasing his fortune will prefer 
commerce to an investment in land.t 

Besides the uncertainty of this kind of contract, the enor- 
mous expenses incurred in the transfer of landed property by 
sale is a no less considerable impediment in the way of land 
transfer. " In England, the son who succeeds his father is at 
no expense at all : but a purchaser is put to such enormous 
expenses, that, as things stand, it may be stated that the sale 
or purchase of a small estate in England is almost impossible, 
since the expense incurred by the deed would exceed the value 
of the land trans f erred. ''$ 

It is not the deed itself which entails such immense expense ; 
it is the examination of the titles, by virtue of which the transfer 
is possible. In what way is it to be ascertained with certainty 
that the vendor is the lawful owner of the estate? Is the 
estate in no way encumbered? Has no secret mortgage 
lessened its market value ? Has the possessor or not already 
transferred the property,, simply reserving to himself the rent 
for life, or some smaller income, thus rendering real possession 
by the purchaser a delusion ? 

Such are the grave questions which have to be answered 
before even the preliminaries of the transaction can be entered 
upon. Conveyancers, whose special profession is the verifica- 
tion of titles to property, are entrusted with the clearing up of 

* M. de Beaumont, II. 179. 

t Id. I. 180. 

% Id. ib. p. 181. [A son succeeding a father by desceut has become, since 
M. de Beaumont wrote, liable to a tax called "Succession duty," which is 
however a tax of only one per cent.] 




these questions ; but "it is a well known fact that in the 
majority of cases, how great soever be the efforts of the con- 
veyancer, it is absolutely impossible to come at such certainty 
as will secure the buyer against all deception." 

Besides, these investigations are an indispensable formality : 
necessary or useless, as the case may be, they constitute the 
privilege of and furnish a livelihood to a whole class of men 
of law, to whom recourse must be had. 

Finally the expenses entailed by these searches are always 
the same, whatever be the extent of the estate to be sold ; so 
that they become comparatively less in proportion to the size 
of the estate. " This explains why, in England it is impossible 
to buy any but large estates, and how obstacles which embar- 
rass even the wealthy put a dead stop to the working of small 
fortunes in this matter. Thus it is that in that country the 
land may change hands, but it is not divided."* 

In Ireland since the eighteenth century transactions relative 
to land have not been covered by such impenetrable darkness 
as in England. In 1708 a public Registry for all deeds relating 
to land was established in Dublin. The expenses necessitated 
by searches among the registers were however so considerable 
that the rich alone, in the matter of large estates only, could 
support them. Irish property had then as much difficulty, and 
for the same reason, as English, of finding its way into the 
market. Irish property indeed met in this matter with special 
obstacles also, such as involved in new and inextricable difficul- 
ties those who commanded capital enough to attempt becoming 

In the first place a large number of titles contained flaws, 
dating from the time when in law no Irish Catholic could be 
either a landlord, or a tenant holding a long lease. Despite 
the statutes, transactions had been effected between Protestants 
interested in selling and Catholics desirous of purchasing: but 
as the law had to be evaded, the registration was not made, 
and this had been made up for by extra legal deeds. 

Moreover at the time of the famine all the large estates were 
generally let to a few large tenants, called middlemen; and 
these sub-let in their turn to a much larger number of small 
tenants upon certain conditions. The new proprietor's difficulty 
in making out the rights he had acquired amongst this crowd 
of occupants was considerable, composed as it was of middle- 
men, farmers, and labourers, all having rights anterior to his 
own, and frequently connected one with another. " How was 
land to be purchased if investigations into all these matters were 

* M. de Beaumont, II. 182. 


necessary, and if they were omitted how was land to be bought 
with any kind of security ?"* 

In fine, it frequently happened that by private agreement 
(the clauses of which varied ad infinitum), a man hampered his 
successors for half a century or more.f The Irish landlord 
lived at a distance from his estates, exposed yearly to feel in 
his income the effect of disasters which in striking down 
the small tenant rendered the payment of rent impossible. 
Continuing notwithstanding to live in luxury, in order to yield 
in nothing to the nobility of England, he was frequently 
obliged to borrow and to pay heavy interest, since the estates 
mortgaged by him were entailed. M. de Beaumont explains 
(from Blackstone) the legal and very singular fiction by means 
of which the landowner, with the connivance of the law courts, 
could in this case cut off the entail, sell his property, and pay 
his debts. This proceeding was, however, evidently nothing 
more than an exceptional usage. In the meanwhile the debts 
of a landlord and the interest on them taken together often 
exceeded the income, and put the landowner in the cruel 
position of being able neither to meet engagements of honour 
nor to hold the rank to which the extent and importance of his 
estates seemed to entitle him. 

In certain cases, the London Loan Companies became tired 
of waiting, and in order to get back their capital instituted 
proceedings in the Court of Chancery: but the judicial for- 
malities were both so lengthy and so costly that scarce any 
advantage was obtained by recourse to them. 

Such was the embarrassed condition of property in Ireland, 
when the disasters which followed the great famine brought 
the evil to a climax, and raised a cry stronger than ever for an 
easy and cheap means of transferring land. 

As early as 1843 the Devon Commission had bestowed the 
most earnest attention upon this very grave question; had 
exposed, after much evidence, all the disadvantages to landed 
property resulting from these difficulties ; and had expressed a 
desire, in the interest of landowners, creditors, and society at 
large, that land should no longer be hampered with those fatal 
obstacles which kept it out of the market4 

* M. de Beaumont, vol. II. 184. Since the famine the class of "middlemen" 
has nearly entirely disappeared. 

f Joseph Kay ; The Social Condition and Education oj the People, (v. I. p. 36-52. ) 
London, 1850. 

X " That where proprietors are much embarrassed, it would frequently be 
of great benefit both to themselves and their properties that they should have 

the power of selling their estates There can be little doubt that every 

facility which shall simplify and facilitate sales must be highly beneficial to 
all parties, and to none more than the present encumbered possessors, who find 
themselves in the false position of being the responsible proprietors of extensive 



This same commission expressed the hope that this measure, 
after having allowed landlords to fulfil their engagement, 
would fortunately contribute to the formation of a middle 
class, and thereby resolve in a peaceful manner many of the 
grave social difficulties of Ireland. This was certainly seeing 
the evil and pointing out the remedy with remarkable clear- 
ness; and this is by no means the least praiseworthy part of the 
i mportant work done by the Parliamentary Commission of 1 843.* 

Notwithstanding the evident advantages of such a measure 
and its bearing upon general interests, notwithstanding the 
authoritative opinion of the Commission in its favour, it was 
not until 1849, and then at the instance of the creditors of 
the Irish aristocracy, that parliament passed a law authorizing 
the sale of encumbered property. This authorization, granted 
in the first instance to a provisional Commission composed of 
three members, was prolonged ; and finally the powers of the 
Commission were transferred to a permanent Court which has 
been at work during the last twelve years, and the proceedings 
of which are annually published in the statistical returns.f 

This Court, upon the simple petition of a creditor or land- 
lord, puts the encumbered estate up to public auction, and 
grants to the purchaser a parliamentary (that is a perfectly 
legal and incontestable) title, which in case the whole of the 
head landlord's interest is sold gives him the absolute owner- 
ship in what is called the fee simple. Those who before had 
a claim upon the estate itself have thenceforward no claim but 
upon the money produced by the sale; the court examines 
their claims and pays them what is due to them. 

According to the ninth annual report the following is the 
summary of the proceedings of this Court.! 

and populous districts with large nominal incomes mortgaged to their creditors, 
and having no possible means of fulfilling the costly and onerous duties to which 
the present aspect of Irish affairs exposes them." — {Dig. of Evidence, Part II., 
chap, xxi., pp. 863 and 865.) 

* " We believe that there is a large number of persons in Ireland possessing 
a small amount of capital which they would gladly employ in the purchase and 
cultivation of land ; and a still larger number, now resident in different parts 
of the country and holding land for uncertain or limited terms at a rent, who 
would most cheerfully embrace the opportunity of becoming proprietors. The 
gradual introduction of suck a class of men would be a great improvement in the social 
condition of Ireland. A much larger proportion of the population than at present 
would become personally interested in the preservation of peace and good 
order ; and the prospect of gaining admission into this clase of small landowners would 
often stimulate the renting farmer to increased exertion and persevering industry" — 
(Dig. of Evid.-, II. 1139). 

t These returns, drawn up by M. Charles Montague Ormsby, are published 
by Hodges and Smith of Grafton-street, Dublin. 

J "Ninth Annual Report; Summary of Proceedings of the Incumb. Est. 
Court from the filing of the first Petition, viz., 25 Oct. 1849 to the 31st of 
Aug. 1858." 


Number of petitions presented to the court . . 4,413 

Number of orders of sale issued by the court . . 3,547 
Number of petitions presented by landlords themselves* 1,363 
Number of transfers of property effected with the 

sanction of the court ...... 8,364 

Number of lots soldf J 1,024 

Total amount paid in by purchasers . . £23,161,093^ 

Number of English, Scotch and foreign purchasers . 324 
Number of Irish purchasers . 8,528 

We must add that a rather large number of sales were com- 
pulsory; those who made them being creditors, who had no 
other way of recovering their capital. § Many lots too were 
bought up by middlemen who had mortgages upon the estates 
managed by them. 

In order to appreciate the results of this new institution, we 
must keep in view the statistics and information gathered upon 
this subject in many different parts of Ireland. 

That it has done good is an incontestable fact. Doubtless 
it has not swept away the complicated mechanism surrounding 
landed property, and the greater part of the disadvantages 
resulting from the feudal laws still exist. Nevertheless this is 
a first and a great step towards the entire enfranchisement of 
land in a market point of view. By the passing of this mea- 
sure, chiefly, the Catholics of the towns enriched by industry 
have been enabled to buy back ancestral estates, and to become 
possessors of the Irish soil, for which they were legally incapa- 
citated three-quarters of a century ago. It is interesting too 
to know that in many cases property put up for sale in the 
Incumbered Estates Court has been bought in with the fruits 
of emigrant industry in America and Australia. 

Catholics have consequently to congratulate themselves on 
the passing of this measure : for if it does not repair com- 
pletely, as it never can, three centuries of violence and confis- 
cation, it is at least beginning to palliate their results. It has 
so far done so as already to have excited the jealousy and the 
lowering misgivings of the old orange party. It has conse- 
quently brought down upon the English government the bit- 
terest accusations. The measure has been termed revolutionary, 

* With this peculiar circumstance, — that of the first hundred petitions ad- 
dressed to the court six only were presented by landlords, whilst of the last 
hundred forty-seven originated with the landlords. 

*f- In case one person buys a number of lots, one deed only is usually drawn up. 

J The statistics published in 1861 give the total amount paid by purchasers 
into the court from the month of October 1849 to the month of August 1859. 
It is £25,190,839. (Thorn's Off. Direct. 1861 ; p. 717.) 

§ M. Leoncede Lavergne; Economie Rurale deVAngleierre de VEcosse et de 
VIrlande ;■ p. 420. 


and we must admit that it had somewhat that appearance when 
compared with all the formalities and delays which, without 
it, shackled the transfer of property.* 

Shall we however be able to count among the fortunate 
results of this measure the creation of a class of small proprie- 
tors in Ireland? We fear not. 

Up to the present, in fact, the lots sold (and the court can 
divide them at discretion) have been much too large, and have 
consequently required too considerable an amount of capital 
for their purchase to be within the reach of even the wealthiest 
of tenants. It is then still to be desired that the government 
should profit by so favourable a circumstance to encourage in 
Ireland the creation of small estates, a result which might 
easily be attained, were the lots split up so as to be placed 
within reach of even the better class of the tenantry.! 

To have facilitated the sale and purchase of land is however to 
have done much. It is consequently a matter of satisfaction to 
us that the powers of the court were increased in 1858 by anew 
Act of Parliament, which in addition to making it a permanent 
institution, gave it a kind of power over all estates whether 
encumbered or unencumbered. The Court, invested with new 
powers, has taken a name more comprehensive and more in 
keeping with its extended sphere of action, namely that of the 
Landed Estates' Court.% 

This new Court began its sittings on the 1st of Novem- 
ber, 1858.^ 

It is evident that the sphere of its action being widened, it 
will happily counterbalance the influence of the feudal laws 
still existing, and deaden their effect upon the future of landed 

* When reproducing this accusation of the conservatives (May, 1858) the 
Times added with a species of contrition : — Time brings with it its own retri- 
bution ; and the sins of fathers have been visited on their children in such a 
manner as to warn us in future against the temptation to separate race from 
race or to substitute one church for another church. " For generations the 
proprietors of the land in Ireland were Spartans among a Helot peasantry, 
almost planters among negro slaves. " 

■f " The effects of this statute will never be felt by those classes who most 
stand in need of relief, viz. , the farmers, the shopkeepers, and the peasants of 
Ireland." — (Kay; I. 322.) Twelve years ago a society was formed by Mr. 
Duffy (at present in Australia), and John Sadleir, for the creation of small 
estates. (See a pamphlet on this subject by Mr. Duffy.) The tragical end of 
Mr. John Sadleir, added to other lamentable circumstances, appears to have 
blighted this well-conceived project. 

% Thorn's Official Directory, p. 717 ; 21 and 22 Vic. Under the title of 
General Rules and Orders of the Landed Estates Court {Ireland) the Judges of this 
court have published and sixbmitted to Parliament the Rules of proceeding and 
the legal formalities to be followed in order to effect by the authority of the 
court the transfer of landed property. [In the Appendix to the French edition, 
(No. 6, ) the most important of these Rules are printed in full. It is of course 
unnecessary to give them in the present volume.] 



property. In this sense, the institution of the Landed Estates 1 
Court may become the starting point of a salutary and pacific 

Unfortunately this same measure so advantageous in every 
other respect has in nowise contributed to a desirable change 
in the relations between landlord and tenant. This is a point 
upon which we are convinced that we have made the minutest 
and most complete enquiries ; and it is one upon which we 
found men of all shades of political opinion entirely unani- 

Thus, within the last few years the alterations of property 
effected by t Incumbered Estates Court have frequently raised 
the rents in a sudden and extraordinary manner. Had the 
farmers held leases they would not have suffered this sudden 
raising of the rent ; tenants-at-will had no protection against 
it. They had no alternative but to agree to the new terms, 
however exorbitant; or to be evicted by the new proprietor, 
and emigrate. Many of the new landlords were forced in 
spite of themselves thus to oppress their tenantry, in order to 
make up the interest of their outlay. We remember having 
seen a lot of land in the county Kerry put up for sale in the 
Landed Estates Court. The income from it would naturally 
have been £100. This lot was sold for £4200, that is to say 
for forty-two years' rental. It is clear that if he did not 
intend to lose his money the new landlord, however kindly 
disposed towards his tenants, would be obliged to double imme- 
diately the figure of the rent. Similar facts were stated to 
us in the counties of Cork, Mayo, and Down, and by Dublin 
gentlemen eminently versed in these matters. 

It has been remarked too, that the new landlords, chiefly 
bent upon lucrative speculations, and not having with their 
tenantry those relations which time consecrates, are more 
ea iiy led to treat them as strangers ; and that they proceed 
less scrupulously than the old families in farm-consolidating 
and the extension of pasture by wholesale evictions.* 

To sum up: the institution of the Incumbered Estates Court, 
completed and fixed by that of the Landed Estates Court, 
has already freed the most encumbered tenth of Irish property ; 
it has inaugurated, though slowly, the important operation 
of division of the soil : and as the majority of buyers have 
been Irishmen,! we have reason to hope that the continuous 
action of this court will contribute to the reparation of the 

* See the Dublin papers for October 1858, for a report of a meeting held at 
Millstreet, and a speech of Mr Maguire, M.P. Many examples of this kind 
of eviction are there quoted. See also the Nation for November 20th, 1858. 

t See Statistics quoted above, (p. 165) : 324 foreign buyers, against 8258 Irish. 



iniquitous work of past spoliation. In this light, its results are 
excellent, and deserving of unreserved approbation. 

As to what are in England called the relations of landlord and 
tenant, the question remained untouched ; it has still to await 
from a fresh* interference of the legislature a satisfactory- 
solution . The necessity of this solution, proclaimed long ago 
by all the organs of public opinion, and by ministers them- 
selves, was never called in question. Parliament has made 
attempts every session to come at that solution. Before passing on 
to the bill of 1860, then, we shall review these long and laborious 
attempts, in order to gather from the parliamentary debates 
to which they gave rise, the opinions of statesmen and econo- 
mists of every party, upon a question of such gravity and so 
intimately bound up with the weightiest interests of the Irish 



Strictly speaking we might say that ever since the time when 
Sir John Davies* depicted with such energy the tyranny of 
landlords and the oppression of tenants, that is to say, ever 
since two centuries and a-half ago, the question has been con- 
stantly put and constantly awaits a solution. 

The attention devoted to this subject by public men of all 
parties does not therefore date from yesterday ; the iniquities 
of this deplorable system have long been known, thanks not only 
to the efforts of the friends and advocates of Ireland, but also, 
let it be boldly said, to the habits of serious enquiry and free 
discussion of which our neighbours are justly proud because 
they unveil the mystery in which abuses love to lurk. As far as 
regards Enquiries, Commissions, Evidence upon oath, searching 
cross examination, and conscientious Reports, prepared by the 
most honorable and the ablest men, there is not a country in 
which the probity, we might almost say the luxury and scru- 
pulousness of publicity, are carried further than in England. 

Look at the enormous collection of parliamentary enquiries 
and reports. These modest volumes, in their blue paper bind- 
ings, contain a treasure of detail of practical information upon 
all political questions, upon all social and religious administra- 
tion, which supply the information required for the debates of 

* His expressions have beeD quoted above. (Book II. ch. xii. p. 158.) 



the houses of parliament. There are matters comparatively 
unimportant which have filled as many as five or six " Blue 
Books" each of a thousand pages or more. In this collection 
the documents relative to the Irish land question occupy a 
considerable space* 

Without looking back farther than the present century, there 
has scarce been a government, indeed scarcely a parliament, 
which has not been called upon to examine into this question ; 
and from 1810 till 1845 no less than ten special Commissions 
were appointed to inquire into matters relative to the Irish 
tenant system.f 

In 1835, the Commissioners sent into Ireland by Lord John 
Russell's government, to prepare for the establishment of a 
poor law, advised that the surest and most efficacious way to 
better the condition of the poor in Ireland was to encourage 
agricultural labour by guarantees. 

The frightful strides of public misery not unjustly attributed 
to the tenant system, and to the general use made of the right 
of eviction, produced a general outcry. To appease it, Sir 
Robert Peel charged a commission, headed by Lord Devon, to 
study thoroughly and in detail the nature of the relations 
existing in Ireland between landlord and tenant. This Com- 
mission spent the whole of the year 1844 in collecting evidence, 
published in 1845 ; and a glance at the summary of the Blue 
Books which contain the labours of this commission suffices to 
show that nothing escaped it, and that the duty imposed upon 
it was fulfilled with scrupulous exactness. 

In their final report, dated Feb. 14th, 1845, and addressed 
to the Queen, the Commissioners summed up the results of 
their long and conscientious enquiry, and pointed out upon 
each individual head the measures which they deemed neces- 
sary for a satisfactory solution of the question. 

They did not hesitate to say: 

That there was not a country in Europe in which the labour- 
ing classes were more oppressed or more w r retched than in 


That this question of landownership not only affected the 

* "We have Blue Books upon Blue Books in our libraries which contain 
the fullest information upon the subject." (Speech of Mr. Sadleir in the House 
of Commons ; 11th Feb. 1852.) 

+ See the reports of the commissions of 1819, 1823, 1830, 1832 and 1835. A 
tolerably complete summary of the labours of the commission of 1830 is given 
in the report of the commission of Lord Devon. — (Digest of Evidence, II. p. 

% ' ' Poverty and hardships under which a large portion of the agricultural 

population continually labour. " — (Dig. of Evid. ; II. 1115.) "Under 

sufferings greater, we believe, than the people of any other country in Europe 
have to sustain."— (lb. XVI: 1116.) 


interests of landlord and tenant, but the public peace and 
general prosperity of the British empire* 

That the system of absentee landlords letting the land to 
middlemen, who underlet it, and whose only object is to make 
the most money out of it, was the cause of grievous oppression 
to small tenants.-]- 

That the system of tenure at will existing over the whole of 
Ireland was damaging to tenant and landlord; and that a 
system of moderate leases would be advantageous to both 
classes, provided it was a matter of free agreement, and not 
obligatory in law.$ 

That the uncertainty of tenure and want of capital among 
the farmers being the principal obstacles to the development 
of the agricultural riches of the land, a guarantee of reason- 
able compensation to cultivators who by their labour and outlay 
had increased the value of an estate was the means best calcu- 
lated to promote throughout the country substantial improve- 

That the enlarging of farms being but the exercise of an 
essential right of ownership, the law could not limit its action ; 
but that it was the duty of the Commission to call attention to 
the abuse of it, and to its disastrous consequences. || 

That the pressure of local taxes being felt almost exclusively 
by the tenants, already hardly able to meet their engagements, 
it was desirable that the government should take upon itself to 
meet some of these taxes ; for instance, the police tax.^j" 

That a great and efficacious remedy for these grave evils 
would be, on the one hand, to encourage the partition and sale 

* " It must never be forgotten that an improved cultivation, with the con- 
sequent increase of produce from the soil, and of comfort to the occupier, are 
not matters of private or individual interest only, but are intimately connected 
with the preservation of public tranquillity, and the general prosperity of the 
whole empire." — {Dig. of Evid. ; II. 1118.) 

+ "The poor occupiers were frequently exposed to great oppression. The 
evils consequent upon such a system have been frequently exposed in authentic 
Reports, and every writer on Ireland has dwelt upon them." — (Ib. II. 1121.) 

J "Asa general system it is more for the interest of both landlord and 
tenant that leases of a moderate length should be granted. We feel, however, 
that this is one of the points which must be left to the discretion of individuals, 
and we cannot recommend any direct interference by the legislature." — (Dig. 
of Evid. II. 1122.) — " The uncertainty of tenure is constantly referred to as a pressing 
grievance by all classes of tenants." — (lb. ib.) 

§ " Although it is certainly desirable that the fair remuneration to which a 
tenant is entitled for his outlay of capital or of labour in permanent improve- 
ments should be secured to him by voluntary agreement rather than by com- 
pulsion of law ; yet we believe that some legislative measure will be found necessary in 
order to give efficacy to such agreements, as well as to provide for those cases which 

cannot be settled by private arrangement No single measure can be 

better calculated to allay discontent, and to promote substantial improvement 
throughout the country." — (Ib. 1124.) 

|| Dig. of Evid. 1129. f lb. 1159-1162. 



of landed property, so as to form a middle class ;* and on the 
other to endeavour to re-establish between two classes animated 
with hostility and ill-will towards one another, that mutual 
confidence and sympathy which could alone prevent the land- 
lord from abusing his rights, and the tenant from repaying by 
assassination the stern measures of which he was the victim.t 

Such were the views suggested to the government by the 
Devon Commission ; and it was w T ith the help of these precious 
data that Lord Stanley, now Earl Derby, laid before the house 
a bill during the session of 1845. 

From that time forward bills upon this question crowded 
the tables of both houses,^ giving rise to most serious debates, 
and most learned and conscientious research by men of all 
parties, thoroughly examined by the ablest administrators; yet 
without leading to any decisive result whatever. 

" The remedy for the evils of Ireland," said Lord Stanley 
in bringing in his bill, " is not Emigration, but a system under 
which the tenant would be induced to invest his labour and 
capital in the land."§ 

In 1848, at the opening of the session, the Royal Speech 
directed the special attention of parliament to this weighty 
matter; and in their Address to the crown, the Commons 
thanked Her Majesty for the interest she evinced in Ireland, 
and pledged themselves to take such steps as should conciliate 
the rights of property with the social requirements of an un- 
fortunate people.|| 

Notwithstanding these solemn promises the session of 1848 
came to a close without any solution of the difficulty having 
been discovered ; and indeed the question was put anew in the 
same terms a second time to succeeding parliaments. 

The debates during the session of 1852 were keen and en- 

* Dig. ofEv. ; 1139-1140. f lb. 1165, 1167. 

% The following is a list of these Bills, with the names of their authors : — 

1845 Lord Stanley. 1850 Mr. Sharman Crawford. 

1846 Mr. Sharman Crawford. 1852 Mr. Sharman Crawford. 
Lord Lincoln, Secretary for 1853 Mr. Napier. 

Ireland. Mr. Sergeant Shee. 

1847 Mr. Sharman Crawford. 1854 (Four Bills.) 

1848 Sir W. Somerville. 1855 Mr. Sergeant Shee. 
Mr. Sharman Crawford. 1856-1857 Mr. Moore. 

1849 Mr. Pusey. 1858 Mr. Maguire. 

1850 Sir W. Somerville. 

§ Sitting of 9 June, 1845. 

|| ' ' We humbly thank Your Majesty for the deep anxiety and interest which 
Your Majesty takes in the present condition of Ireland ; and we assure Your 
Majesty that we will give our best attention to measures which Your Majesty 
recommended to the consideration of parliament, which with due regard to the 
rights of property may advance the social condition of the people and teud to 
the permanent improvement of this part of the United Kingdom." 



grossing : the just rights of landlords, the more just complaints 
of tenants, their mutual interests, parallels between the work- 
ing of Tenant-Right in Ulster and the prosperous condition 
of Scotch and English farmers, the palpable difficulty of the 
problem, the incontestable advantages of a solution, — all was 
weighed with the most scrupulous care, and debated on both 
sides with the most conscientious attention, on the occasion of 
Mr. Sharman Crawford's Bill. 

The great drawback to farming, — want of security and 
capital, — was exposed by the mover of the Bill, who devoted 
his speech to the proof of the direct effect upon property of 
the condition to which tenants were reduced * Mr. Crawford 
protested, above all, against that hateful abuse of the rights of 
property by virtue of which everything done or built upon the 
estate of the landlord became his property without compen- 
sation to the tenant, upon his eviction. 

He asked that the law, under such circumstances, should gua- 
rantee the evicted tenant a right to compensation, the amount of 
which should be settled by arbitrators appointed by the two 
parties: that in case they could come to no agreement, the 
matter should be referred to the assistant-barrister, in cases 
where the claim was below £100; and in cases where the 
claim exceeded that amount it should go before the circuit 

As to the rest, a landlord meeting, held at Dublin in 1847, 
at which there were present seventeen members of the House 
of Lords and thirty-seven of the House of Commons, publicly 
recognized the right of the tenant to claim compensation for 
permanent improvements.! 

Lord John Russell opposed the bill ; he stated that he con- 
sidered it dangerous in the then excited state of Ireland, and 
he upheld more definitely even than the Commission of 1843 
the principle of non-intervention of the law in the relations 
between landlord and tenant. Lord John Russell spoke dif- 
ferently in 1846, but he then belonged to the opposition, and 
it then served the purpose of the. adversaries of the tory party 

* ' ' All the evils that exist in the present day in the social relations of 

Ireland may be traced to this one cause, the want of security There 

is no improvement in the soil ; there is no cultivation ; rents are not paid ; 
an accumulation of arrears iakeVplace ; distraints for rent are the consequence ; 

next follow ejectments, and these cause agrarian disturbances The 

remedy is by offering to the tenant the security for his labour." (Sitting of 
11th Feb., 1852.) 

+ "A resolution was passed recognizing the right of the tenant to claim 
compensation for permanent improvements." — In Lord Stanley's bill of 1845 
the arbitration was to be handed over to a special Commissioner, whose duty 
it would be to value the improvements, and decide upon the amount owed by 
the landlord to the evicted tenant. 


and of the Peel cabinet to throw the responsibility of the 
social misfortunes of Ireland upon the then government. But 
were not protestations and theories of the whig party calcu- 
lated to raise the expectations of the agricultural classes ? and 
can we be astonished that they expected a great deal from 
those whose promises had been so frequent and so solemn ?* 

A fortnight afterwards, (Feb. 27,) Lord John Russell's 
ministry, in power from the 6th July 1846, was succeeded by 
that of Lord Derby. 

The bill was thrown out; partly probably on account of 
the practical difficulties of execution presented by many of its 
important clauses; probably also for fear of establishing a 
precedent which in its future action might entail unforeseen 
consequences, by affecting the rights of property, in the very 
act of putting an end to crying and universally condemned 
abuses. f 

The agitation which this bill produced in Ireland was 
fomented by the formation of a society called the " Tenant- 
League" holding its meetings throughout the different counties 
of Ireland, at which the principal speakers of the party 
assisted.^ This agitation was however fruitless enough ; for 
public opinion was already sufficiently enlightened on the mat- 
ter, instructed as it had been by the parliamentary debates ; 
and unfortunately it in no way tended to establish between 
the two conflicting classes those mutual feelings of good-will 
and sympathy without which the most avowed partisans of 
legislative interference themselves acknowledged that a law 
would be unable to strike at the root of the evil. 

In a learned work, published about this time, a member for 
the county Cork, himself a lawyer and wealthy landowner, 
proposed the submission of questions disputed between land- 
lord and tenant to a special tribunal. § 

One of the principal duties of this tribunal would be to 

* "I take the liberty of saying that the government which I now see in 
power have paltered with this question in every sense ; they excited the 
people of Ireland to hold the highest expectations when out of office ; and now, 
in office, when it can no longer serve their purpose to do so, they allow this 
question which they themselves have created to drop to the ground." — (Same 
sitting, 1852 ; Speech of Mr. [now the Eight Hon. Judge} Keogh.) 

t In this debate Mr. Bright rather wickedly asked : whether it was not a 
piece of presumption to expect a parliament almost exclusively composed of 
landlords to frame a law restricting their own rights. One might as well, 
said he, ask of a parliament of cat's to make laws for the protection of the 
rights of mice ! Let it be understood that we leave to Mr. Bright all the 
responsibility of the comparison. 

% We must mention among them Mr. Moore, at that time member of parlia- 
ment, — one of the warmest defenders of Irish rights, one of the stoutest 
advocates of " Tenant Right." 

§ '• Land Tribunal." 



decide by means of valuators the amount of rent to which each 
landlord was rightfully entitled. Critics had some reason 
when they asked of the author of this project, where he could 
find men who would or could undertake so heavy and delicate 
a task: supposing a man to be well versed in questions of 
agriculture and political economy, his life would certainly not 
last to the end of the labour; and nothing was ever more 
chimerical, or farther from a practical solution of the ques- 
tion than this plan.* 

All these projects were also generally reproached with not 
taking sufficiently into account the situation of farm-labourers, 
upon whom, in their turn, the small farmers exercised an 
oppression analogous to that which they themselves underwent 
at the hands of the landlords and agents ; as though it were 
one of the evil laws of human nature, which history but too 
often confirms, that oppression begets oppression, and that 
there is a kind of malicious satisfaction in making others pay 
for the sufferings one endures. 

The failure of Mr. Crawford's bill however disheartened 
neither the members of the government, nor the advocates of 
the Irish tenant. 

It was during a debate upon this bill, of such momentous 
importance, that Lord Palmerston uttered these memorable 
words quoted frequently since, extorted by the power of truth, 
which so easily enable the publicist to appreciate the policy of 
England in Ireland.! 

It is to be observed that at this period Lord Palmerston did 
not hesitate to call for the interference of the law to determine 
the rights of landlords. He qualified it however as an excep- 
tional measure, called for only by an exceptional situation. 

Two years subsequently, in April 1858, another bill, for 
settling equitably the relations between landlord and tenant, 
was laid before parliament. The chief supporter of the new 
measure was Mr. Maguire, Mayor of the important city of 
Cork, and member for Dungarvan. Other Irish members 
seconded Mr. Maguire both in word and act, and the debates 
were vigorous and animated. 

The preceding year had seen an exceptional amount of farm- 
consolidation by the rich landlords ; of conversion of corn into 
grazing land; and of destruction of cottages by wholesale 

* Mr. Scully's system is refuted in detail in an article of the Irish Quarterly 
Review, March, 1854. 

t "Every member must know the unfortunate state of Ireland, and must 
be aware that Ireland had for a long series of years been the victim of the 
misgovernment of this country. It was because Ireland was the victim of 
sectarian oppression and class legislation that the government were entitled to 
ask for exceptional legislation." (Sitting of 4th April, 1856.) 



evictions. The number of emigrants from the United Kingdom, 
which in 1856 amounted only to 176,554, had risen in 1857 to 
212,865.* The newspapers were teeming with accounts of the 
services of the Crowbar- Brigade; whole villages disappeared 
before the destroyers ; solitude began her empire in districts 
lost to her since the barbarous times, and but lately populous ; 
the Scotch grazier, with his flocks, settled down upon the land, 
abandoned by a despairing people, whom a week before the 
steam ships for New York and Sidney had taken away ; all this 
but too abundantly proved that the bad system of government 
denounced by Lord Palmerston himself was still grinding down 
that unfortunate island, and producing the same evils as here- 
tofore. It was to the years 1857 and 1858 that the venerable 
Archbishop of Tuam alluded, when he wrote to Lord Palmers- 
ton : that the grievances to which the prime minister had so 
strongly called the attention of the government in the spring 
of 1856 not only still existed in full force, but were even aggra- 
vated ; . . . and that the evils accumulated by former oppression 
extended their influences over the country as widely as ever.f 

About this time a council of Irish bishops called on the 
priests to use freely the liberties guaranteed them by the con- 
stitution, and to raise their voice in the cause of an oppressed 
people. The Fathers of the council did not hesitate to insert, 
in the Acts of their august assembly, the expression of that 
grief which the pastors experienced at the sight of those 
terrible evictions, the scenes of desolation which accompanied 
them and the irreparable misfortunes which followed them.J 
Never since the time of the famine had a more favourable 
opportunity occurred for pleading the cause of the agricultural 
classes of Ireland. 

* " General Reports of the Emigration Commissioners." 

+ Tuam Herald, Nov. 1859. 

% This page of the Acts of the Council of Tuam is too good not to be quoted 
entire : 

" Maximam libertatem loquendi et agendi quae ex juris civilis disposition e 
unicuique subditorum competit, in miserabilium et pauperuin emolumentum, 
quoties prudentia et caritas id sinat, convertere satagant sacerdotes nostri ; 
seseque pro muro domui Israel, prout decet ministros Dei, pouere non dubitent. 
Inauditee molestise et persecutiones quas, cum patrimoniis et bonis omnibus 
spoliarentur, exulare cogerentur, morti ipsi traderentur, alacri animo, ut fortes 
athletse Christi, passi sunt, excitare debent ut tempore et modo opportuno illis 
opem ferant. Neque funesta ac feralia ilia tempora ex integro praeterierunt ; 
etenim dies luctuosi crebro redeunt, in quibus, gemitu et planctu fidelium 
nostrorum habitacula perstrepunt. Quam seepe ad extremas angustias redigunt- 
ur fideles populi nostri, quinimmo e domuncuiis suis, virtutum omnium domici- 
les, misere ejiciuntur, et tamen patientiam Jobi eemulantes, cum ipso exclamare 
solent : Deus dedit, Deus eripuit, nomen Dei laudetur et preedicetur ! Quam 
scepe parentibus, amicis, et terris amatis valere coguntur, et fidem suam, in cujus com- 
paratione omne aurum et argentum arena est exigua, in gravissima discrimina adducant 
. . . Ante oculosluctum continuum fiabemus.'" — (Cone. Tuam. 1858, cxviii. No. 2.) 


During the debate of the 14th of April, Mr. Maguire endea- 
voured to show that the subdivision of land into small farms 
was not the only cause of the peasant's wretchedness, as that 
school of political economy maintained which saw the panacea 
for all Ireland's misfortunes in the consolidation of farms. In 
fact in 1841, Ulster, admittedly the most prosperous part of 
Ireland, reckoned 234,000 farms upon a superficies of 3,400,000 
acres; whilst Munster, of greater extent (3,874,000 acres), 
reckoned 72,000 less, viz., 162,000. Without then disputing 
the assertion that the partition of land in Connacht had been 
carried to an excess prejudicial to the cultivator and to the 
interests of agriculture, social misery in Ireland must have 
been due to some other cause than the injudicious subdivision 
of the soil. 

The causes alluded to by the speaker were on the one hand 
the habitual despotism of landlords and agents, and on the 
other the precarious situation to which were inexorably con- 
demned the very men upon whose industry and labour the 
prosperity of the country depended. Was it too much to ask 
for them the guarantees enjoyed by the ryots of India; and 
was the social condition of the heathen peasant on the banks 
of the Ganges to be still a subject of envy to the sternly- 
handled population of Munster and Connacht?* 

Another member, Mr. Blake (M.P. for Waterford) calcu- 
lated the enormous loss to the public wealth arising out of 
such a svstem. He calculated that under favourable condi- 
tions, the produce of Ireland might amount to forty instead 
of twenty millions. But until farmers were seriously encouraged 
to spare neither toil nor money in the development of the 
resources of a land naturally fertile, progress would be impos- 
sible, and agriculture would remain fatally stagnated.! 

On the other hand, added the same speaker, give encourage- 
ment and security to agriculture ; convince it that it will be 
repayed for its work, and that its pecuniary advances will 
benefit it ; and in few years the face of Ireland will change, 

* " While the cultivators of the soil in India are entitled to compensation 
for their improvements, and while those improvements are not to be made the 
occasion of an increased tax or rent, the Irish tenant has no claim for compen- 
sation, and his own improvements subject him to an increased rent. There is 
full protection for the wretched ryot of India, but none for your fellow-subjects 
in Ireland." 

t ' ' Latest returns inform us that the value of the agricultural products of 
Ireland amounts to over 20 millions sterling a year, and nearly every com- 
petent authority coincides in saying that iinder a proper system of cultivation 

this would be doubled This enormous wealth, this 20 millious a-year, 

lies buried beneath the soil, of use to no man, feeding no man, paying neither 

rent nor taxes Who benefits by this ? Not the tenant Nor 

the landlord." 



and though she had to go through trials similar to those of 
1847 and 1848, still she would make her way upon the remains 
of her abundance and await better days. 

On the 9th of June, another Irish member, lately in office 
under the Minister-at-War of the Palmerston Cabinet, a mem- 
ber of whom his tenants in the county Limerick joyfully and 
proudly say that " that there is no better landlord" — Mr. 
Morisell, — defended in his turn the interests of the Irish 
farmer, and assured the government that nothing would make 
it more popular in Ireland than a special measure for the 
settlement of this question.* 

The same fate however befell Mr. Maguire's bill, which had 
befallen the others ; and for the nineteenth time, the solution 
of a problem involving the lot of four millions of men, and 
the agricultural future of a great country was evaded. Royal 
speeches, addresses of Parliament, Blue-Boohs with their 
merciless statistics, the labours of men most experienced in 
these difficult questions, all, had vainly thrown into relief the 
minutest details of this formidable question. Vainly had each 
successive party brought to bear upon it, together with its own 
peculiar views and scientific knowledge, the earnestness 
engendered by a desire to do more, and do better, than its 
adversaries. Cabinet succeeded cabinet, whig tory, liberal 
conservative; and no matter what the origin of the Bills 
relative to the land question in Ireland, they were invariably 
thrown out on the first or second, sometimes even on the 
third reading ; and Ireland, the victim of hope deferred, left 
to thrive on expectation. 

Such was the position of matters, and the state of men's 
minds, at the beginning of the }^ear 1860, when Lord Palmer- 
ston, called to office on the 18th of June 1859 after the short 
administration of Lord Derby, presented a project to the 
House which became the Bill of 1860, with the examination 
of which we shall terminate this lengthy enquiry. 

* "Ireland was the only country in the world where improvements made 

"by tenants had no advantage of a law of this sort Nothing would make 

the Government more popular in Ireland than a special settlement of this 



The new bill was laid before the House of Commons, by 
Mr. Card well, Secretary for Ireland, on the 27th of March, 

The explanation of the reasons upon which this bill is 
grounded, is an important document upon the history of the 
question. It enumerates all the attempts made w T ithin the fifteen 
preceding years to resolve this question, and records the failure 
of these attempts. The terrible crisis passed through by Ireland, 
the angry disposition of minds, the agitation and commotion 
existing in those counties most severely tried by the bad 
management of landed property: such were the obstacles (it 
was stated) wdiich had checked the legislative measures sub- 
mitted to the consideration of Parliament. At length these 
circumstances either no longer existed or had undergone a 
material change. For ten years Ireland had been, (said the 
Minister), in a state of universal progress, hitherto unknown to 
her ; — during ten years Ireland had obeyed the happy law of 
universal progress, a law before unknown to her. 

The Drainage of marsh lands undertaken on a large scale 
by the help of government loans ; 

The extension of Railways and other means of communi- 
cation ; 

The number of Cattle bred, doubled within twenty years, 
and proportionately improved in quality ; 

The general diminution of the numbers of Farm holdings 
below five acres, and the increase of holdings above thirty (!); 

The sale by the Landed Estates' Court of two millions of 
acres of land, at the price of £23,000,000; 

The rise in the Wages of labourers from an average of 6d. 
to one of 18d. per day; 

The satisfactory results of Criminal statistics, showing that 
for twenty agrarian outrages in 1849 there was only one in 

1859 • 

The reduction of the Poor Rates from £2,199,000 to 


* Since that time Mr. Cardwell, appointed to the Chancellorship of the 
Duchy of Lancaster, has been succeeded in the Secretaryship for Ireland by Sir 
Robert Peel. 



In fine the amelioration of the Material conditions of exist- 
ence, — dwellings, clothing, and food, — among the agricultural 


Everything concurred (concluded the Minister) to make 
Ireland the country in -which of all countries in the world the 
greatest amount of progress had been made during the pre- 
ceding ten years ( ! ).* 

The moment was then a favourable one to encourage the 
cultivators of the soil, without damaging the interests of 
landlords: and at such a moment a guarantee might very 
safely be given to tenants of indemnity for capital advanced. 

In the new bill there was to be no word of perpetuity of 
tenure ; nor of the extension of the Ulster Tenant-Right to 
the other provinces of Ireland ; nor even of the principle of 
retrospective compensation. The author of the bill did not 
even pretend that it was destined to be a popular measure ; 
since it thrust aside, without gratifying them, many of the 
dearest hopes cherished by the country during the preceding 
fifteen years. 

The bill was composed of three great parts. 

The first related to " limited owners," hitherto prevented by 
legal or conventional restrictions from improving their property. 

The second defined the cases in which leases might be 
granted by this class of landlords, in order to render possible 
the improvement of farms by means of the security afforded 
by leases. 

The third part treated of the rules and formalities by means 
of which tenants-at-will might obtain a pecuniary indemnity, 
proportionate to the sums laid out by them upon their holdings. 

Considered as a whole this bill contained some dispositions 
of incontestable utility : but was it not open to the charge of 
being to say the least of it singularly timid in comparison with 
the bills previously discussed in the Commons? Instead of 
closing with all the difficulties inherent to the land question, 
and the situation of the tenant in Ireland, had not the framer 
of this measure confined himself too exclusively to an isolated 
point; important it is true, but still a single point, the solution 
of which would leave untouched the greater part of those 
grave and difficult problems which former measures had 
fearlessly looked in the face? Would not its complicated 
mechanism render the good results which people were entitled 
to expect practically illusory ? In short was the remedy at all 
proportioned to the evil? This was the question which the 
House of Commons was called upon to examine, and which 

*"No more marked improvement has probably takeu place in any country 
in the world." — (House of Commons, 27th March, 1860.) 

180 LANDED PROPERTY. |" B00K n< 

furnished matter for a triple series of debates upon the three 
readings of the bill.* 

Mr. Cardwell's opening speech at once called forth strong 
objections from the Irish members. All complimented the 
feelings of justice and kindliness which had actuated the 
Secretary for Ireland in the elaboration of this new attempt. 
To take up a question in which failure seemed to justify dis- 
couragement was indeed of itself in some sort a merit. But 
in the magnificent picture of Ireland's prosperity given by Mr. 
Cardwell in his exordium, was there nothing open to objection? 
and was there not wanting more than one stroke of the pencil 
which would have singularly sobered the tone of that picture, 
had the speaker not studiously avoided putting them in? 

There was doubtless a certain pleasure in being able to 
testify to the extension of drainage, the multiplication of rail- 
ways, the operations of the Landed Estates Court, the decrease 
in the number of poor, and above all the astounding increase 
in the quantity of cattle in 1860 in comparison with the 
quantity bred in 1840.| 

But this argument, founded upon statistics, had its weak 
side; and taking only the one point which produced the 
greatest impression upon the House, (the diminution of poor- 
rates in ten years from £2,199,000 to £414,000) it would 
not be at all difficult to show that by eliminating one of the 
terms of the comparison one would come at a very different 
result. In fact in Mr. Cardwell's comparison of the progress 
made by railways, public works, drainage, and the increase of 
cattle, he compares the whole period comprised between the 
years 1840 and 1845 with the single year 1859. But on the 
question of the decrease in the number of poor, and of the sums 
set apart for their assistance, it is with the year 1849 alone 
that he compares 1859. Now, what should we say of the 
statistician who in order to give us an idea of the sanitary pro- 
gress of Paris should prepare a comparative table of the mor- 
tality of 1849 and that of 1859; that is who should compare 
two years, during one of which the cholera ravaged this 
capital, the other an ordinary year? As a matter of fact however 
was not this precisely the method applied to Ireland ? Was not 
the year 1849 the one which following immediately upon the 
years of famine had most directly felt the fatal effect of them; 
and was it at all surprising that under such circumstances the 
number of poor should have increased in that year to the fear- 

* See particularly (in Hansard) the debates of the 27th March ; 15th May ; 
11th, and 29th June ; 3rd, 19th, and 27th July ; and, in the House of Lords, 
of the 12th August. 

t In 1840, £21,000,000; in 1860, £36,000,000. 



ful figure of 2,142,000, and the amount of relief given to 

Had however one ordinary year been compared with another, 
for instance 1845 with 1859, as was done in the other ques- 
tions of social economy, a very different kind of progress 
would have appeared on the statement. The amount set apart 
for the relief of the poor was in 1859 £414,000; whilst 
in 1845 (the year before the famine) it was but £256,000. 
Moreover, if we remember that in 1845 the total population 
of Ireland exceeded eight millions of inhabitants, whilst in 
1859 it was below six millions, that is to say more than a 
quarter less, should we have been astonished if there had been 
even a material decrease in the number of poor? 

In 1849, seventy-two thousand persons had been evicted; in 
1859 there were evicted but 2,308. In this matter the progress 
was real, the state of things incontestably better. It need not 
however cause the least surprise. It was more especially at the 
beginning of these ten years that the system of farm- consolida- 
tion, giving rise to wholesale evictions, had been effected on the 
largest scale. The greater part of the work had been done. Con- 
tinual evictions had reduced the population to the number 
strictly required for the cultivation of the land and the tending 
of cattle. This decrease in the number of evictions is then no 
real test of the relations between landlord and tenant. Less of 
the latter are evicted, because there are less to evict, and 
because they are consequently not so much in the way of the 
system which is being carried out in Ireland. 

Besides these general answers, made by several Irish mem- 
bers, to the historical and economical opening which preceded 
the exposition of Mr. Cardwell's measure, one of the clauses 
of that measure provoked a vigorous and almost unanimous 

In the third part of the bill, relative to Tenants-at-will, it 
was proposed to enact that any tenant desirous of making; 
improvements upon his farm should previously serve upon the- 
landlord a notice to that effect, and that the simple refusal of 
a proprietor thus informed was of itself, ipso facto, to be con- 
sidered by the tenant as equivalent to a notice to quit* 

In vain did Mr. Cardwell subsequently affirm that the 
intention of the government, far from being that of adding to 
the already terrible right of eviction, was simply that of getting 
landlords and tenants to enter into written agreements, and to 

* "We propose then that the tenant shall serve a notice upon his landlord 
or upon the agent who receives the rent of the land. We propose if the landlord 
disapproves the improvement he shall at once proceed to terminate the tenancy. " — Mr. 
Cardwell's speech. 


stipulate in a friendly manner concerning the conditions upon 
which improvements should be carried out and the tenant 
compensated for his outlay.* 

There was no difference of opinion upon the undoubted 
advantages of the system of written agreements between the 
contracting parties ;f but was it to be supposed, or even hoped, 
that this system would follow naturally from the proposed 
clause? Were not people on the contrary justified in fearing 
that for the very illusory hope of a very uncertain advantage, 
the intensity of an actual evil would be directly increased ; an 
evil which it was the duty of the legislature to destroy root 
and branch ? 

Among the members who most vigorously attacked this 
strange clause of Mr. Cardwell's bill, Lord Fermoy, Mr. 
Maguire, and Mr. Monsell put the most solid objections to it. 
Were there not indeed enough of ordinary causes of eviction 
already weighing down the yearly tenant, without adding 
another which would make the will of the landlord^ the law, 
and put eviction under the express sanction of an Act of 
Parliament ? Did not the past history and the present situation 
of Ireland abundantly prove that in the matter of evictions 
landlords rather needed restraint than encouragement ?§ The 
fact of a single landlord taking advantage of the power con- 
ferred upon him by this law would be enough to quench all 
spirit of enterprise, all desire of progress and improvement, for 
years, in the district where an eviction should be effected in 
virtue of such a clause. || This single disposition therefore 
rendered the bill powerless for good ; and it would have been 

* ' ' We believe that this will practically lead not to a termination of the 
tenancy, which would be a great mischief, but to a written agreement between 
the parties as to the terms on which the holding shall be continued." — Mr. 
Cardwell's speech. 

t " I believe that hon. gentlemen connected Ireland will agree with me, 
when I say that one of the most desirable results which could arise in that 
country would be obtained by the introduction of business-like written engage- 
ments between landlord and tenant with respect to the occupancy and improve- 
ment of land."-— 76. 

J "In ordinary circumstances a man who would not allow his tenant to 
improve would be bad enough to eject him ; but instead of that down came 
Cardwell's Act to do it for him He could not see how it could have any- 
thing but the worst effect ; — it was giving the sanction of an Act of Parliament 

to the ejectment of an improving tenant The bill would do no good, but 

might, he feared, do Auch harm." — (Speech of Lord Fermoy.) 

§ ' ' With every feeling of respect and friendliness towards the right hon. 
gentleman, he could not help saying that a more vicious suggestion to the land- 
lord or a more fatal result to the tenant could not by any possibility be 
imagined." — (Speech of Mr. Maguire.) 

|| " Had the house contemplated how one single act of such cruelty and folly 
might extinguish for a generation every impulse to improvement in the district 
where it was committed ?" — Id. 


the starting-point of a state of things worse than the one it was 
proposed to remedy.* 

This, so reasonable, opposition, energetically seconded by the 
liberal press of England and Ireland, was completely trium- 
phant. The draft of the bill, as distributed to members, and 
printed in the papers at the beginning of April, did not contain 
this clause. Government had very wisely let it drop, rather 
than risk its authority in a discussion in which everything 
seemed to promise defeat. 

In the debate upon the second reading, the first and second 
parts of the bill gave rise to very little discussion and were 
very quickly voted. The great struggle was upon the third 
part; by far the most important, and the only one which 
directly affected the interests of the Irish tenant. Those 
members who from the outset had warmly taken up the cause 
of the tenant, and who had demanded in his favour more liberal 
and advantageous measures,! attempted to introduce into this 
part amendments more in unison with the wants and wishes of 

One of these amendments bore upon a point closely con- 
nected with the general progress of agriculture and farming. 

Under one of the clauses of the bill, after a tenant had 
formally notified to his landlord his intention of carrying into 
effect such and such an improvement, a delay of three months 
was granted to the latter before replying either pro or con. In 
case of refusal the tenant was to abstain from making the 
designed improvement. 

Mr. Maguire proposed a modification of this clause, giving 
the tenant the right of appealing from the refusal to the Chair- 
man of Quarter Sessions. If this magistrate declared the 
projected improvements useless or damaging to the property, 
the tenant was to desist ; if on the contrary he deemed them 
necessary to the interest of the tenant, the latter should be 
authorized to carry them out, as though leave had been given 
by the landlord himself. 

At first sight this amendment would seem to involve a dan- 
gerous principle, and to constitute a manifest usurpation of the 
rights of ownership. But in order rightly to appreciate its 
force, we must bear in mind the extraordinarv conditions 
under which farming is carried on in Ireland. Mr. Cardwell 
himself, quoting in his statement the work of the Devon Com- 
mission, carefully pointed out the essential differences between 
the land-letting system in Ireland, and in England, Scotland, 

* " The measure seemed to him calculated to make things infinitely worse 
than they were at present." — (Speech of Mr. Monsell.) 

t Borrowing from nearly all the bills previously brought into the House. 


and other countries* A farmer who upon entering on a farm 
finds at hand all that is absolutely indispensable both for the 
requirements of his family, and for tillage, is not properly 
speaking victimized by his landlord supposing the latter refuse 
permission to put up new buildings. But if, as in Ireland, the 
in-coming tenant finds nothing but a piece of naked land, which 
has perhaps for centuries lain uncultivated : if he is first of all 
obliged to build with his own hands, at his own risk and peril, 
the poor cottage which is to shelter his family ;f if for want of 
certain improvements he can with the greatest possible -amount 
of labour barely make ends meet, and can only then afford the 
absolute necessaries of life to his wife and children ; if, in fine, 
when he proposes to carry out these improvements without 
which he may never hope to raise himself above the most 
precarious of situations, he is stopped short by a refusal from 
which there is no appeal, — cannot the law interfere without 
compromising the rights of property? Is not the law on the 
contrary bound to protect the cultivator against such arbitrary 
and senseless selfishness? Is the law subversive of public 
order, when in such a case it prevents the proprietor from 
refusing his consent to works deemed and declared indispens- 
able by a competent magistrate? 

So far is the proposed amendment from being open to the 
imputation of socialism, that many of the preceding bills had 
consecrated a special clause to this important measure. This 
was shown in the clearest manner by Mr. Monsell, in his reply 
to the Attorney-General, Mr. Deasy, who had opposed Mr. 
Maguire's amendment " to prevent" he said " the amendment 
from determining the rejection of the whole bill by the Upper 

This house had in fact rejected Lord Aberdeen's bill, not 
because it contained a similar clause, but because it gave a 
retrospective effect to compensation. As to the clause com- 
batted by the Attorney-General it was to be found in all the 

* " Those who are familiar with the works of Arthur Young, of Mr. Burke, 
or of Mr. Mill, know that in their successive generations those practical and 
philosophic writers have drawn a broad distinction between the state of land 
in Ireland on the one side, and its state in England and in Scotland on the 
other. A distinction so recognized may fairly commend itself to the calm con- 
sideration of this house .... I am not about to trouble the house with unne- 
cessary reference to papers ; but I think I ought to ask you to hear the 
statement on this part of the case which rests on the authority of the Devon 
Commission." — (Speech of Mr. Oardwell ) 

+ " Mr. Cardwell laid down in the clearest manner why it was rendered 
necessary to have a different system of legislation between landlord and tenant 
from that which obtained in England and Scotland. He showed that in Ireland 
those improvements which were considered to be the landlord's improvements 
in England were made either not at all or were made by the tenants."— 
(Speech of Mr. Monsell ; Debate of 27th March.) 



three bills, one of which was brought in by Lord Derby in 
1845, the second by the Duke of Newcastle (then Lord Lin- 
coln) in 1849, the third by Sir W. Somerville in 1850; and it 
would scarcely be reasonable seriously to accuse two lords and 
a baronet of advocating a system at once socialist and destruc- 
tive of the rights of property.* After having adduced the 
testimony of men so well-deserving of the confidence of the 
house, Mr. Monsell, taking up the amendment upon its own 
merits, proved with ease that with a system like the Irish one 
such a clause in favour of tenants was indispensable if the bill 
was seriously and sincerely meant to better their condition.! 

After Mr. Monsell, Colonel Dickson, Mr. Isaac Butt, Lord 
Fermoy, Mr. Connolly, and Sir W. Somerville supported the 
amendment, which with 48 votes for it was negatived by a 
majority of 1444 

A majority of a hundred and forty- four votes in the London 
Parliament against a measure pronounced by Irish members 
of every shade of political and religious opinion indispensable 
to secure the serious good of the agricultural classes of Ire- 

* " Lord Derby introduced a bill containing a provision similar to that now 
suggested by Mr. Maguire. The bills of the Duke of Newcastle and of the 
right hon. gentleman the member for Canterbury [Sir W. Somerville] also con- 
tained a like provision, and therefore the whole weight of authority was in 
favour of the principle advocated in the amendment ; (Hear ! hear !)." (Speech 
of Mr. Monsell ; Debate of June 29.) 

Tq these names must be added those of Lord Naas and Mr. Napier, the 
former Secretary and the latter Attorney-General for Ireland in the Derby 
Cabinet. (See Speech of Mr. Isaac Butt during the same debate.) 

+ " If the bill were required at all, let them make it a bona fide bill ; let 
them pass the clause with the amendment, and by so doing they might rely 
upon it that they would confer an enormous advantage upon Ireland ; (hear ! 
hear !)."— (Speech of Mr. Monsell; 29th June.) 

% Colonel Dickson : "It would be a great improvement if the industrious 
tenant, instead of hoarding up his money in banks, could spend it upon the 
land. When the landlord is either unable or unwilling to advance money for 
the improvement of his estate, the law ought to protect the tenant who can 
and will advance money for the good of the land ; (cheers)." 

Mr. Isaac Butt : "If the amendment is thrown out the bill will be good for 

nothing The rights of property are talked of ; but one of the rights 

of property is not to leave unproductive the land which God has given for 
all." "The clause is to be found in the bills of Lord Naas and of Mr. 
Napier. " 

Lord Fermoy: "If this clause be not adopted the difficulty will not be 
solved, and the question will remain entirely undetermined." 

Mr. Conolly, "as a landlord also supported the amendment, and said that 
he would compel the landlord in certain cases to make improvements. He 
knew there were landlords who would prefer to sit down with their hands in 
their pockets, and very little else in their pockets besides their hands, (laugh- 
ter), rather than comply with the just requirements of the tenants ; (hear ! 
hear !)." [Mr. Conolly is a rich proprietor of the county Donegal.] 

Sir W. Somerville (formerly Chief Secretary for Ireland in the ministry of 
Lord John Russell, and member for Canterbury) : "There is nothing in this 
amendment to alarm the most rigid champion of the rights of property." 



land, and sincerely to encourage the small tenant! With 
what a new and formidable argument have not the English 
here furnished the partisans of Repeal of the Union ! What 
a strange method of uniting the two nations in true and 
mutual sympathy, to crush with English and Scotch votes 
everything calculated to raise up Ireland and to lay upon solid 
foundations the social condition of a class so numerous and 
interesting as that of the tenants from year to year ! 

On the 19th of July the House went into Committee upon 
the third reading. On the 27th a warm debate took place 
upon the exercise of that right of the landlord the main- 
tenance of which had been deemed indispensable by the Devon 
Commission, namely the right of seizing cattle in case of non- 
payment of rent. Mr. Cardwell's bill slightly qualified this 
right, by restricting it to cases in which the rent was in arrears 
by a year. 

Messrs. Hennessy and Maguire demanded the entire aboli- 
tion of seizure, as being a constant source of vexation and 
misery to the tenant.* 

Mr. Monsell suggested as a middle term between the pro- 
position of the government and that of Mr. Maguire, to which 
however he gave his support, the continuance of the right 
in the case of tenants holding a lease, and its abolition in 
the case of tenants-at-will tenants. 

This compromise seemed likely to respect all susceptibilities, 
and to satisfy all requirements. Nevertheless many members 
having remarked that the right of seizure existed in England, 
and that no bill could possibly go through the Lords suppress- 
ing it in Ireland, Mr, Hennessy withdrew his motion. 

At the, beginning of the month of August the bill went up 
to the House of Lords, raised no important discussion, and 
became law under the title of the Landed Property (Ireland) 
Improvement Act, (23 and 24 Vict.), to be in force from the 
2nd of November following. 

We have already stated that the bill consists of three parts 
of which the following are the principal provisions.! 

Limited owners (i. e., owners of only limited interests in 
their lands) may, notwithstanding the legal or conven- 
tional restrictions to which they are subject, make improve- 
ments upon their estates. For this purpose they must obtain 
the sanction of one of the judges of the Landed Estates 

* "The greatest cruelties and injustice had been perpetrated on tenants 
under the existing law." 

+ [The text of the principal clauses of the Act is printed in the appendix of 
the French edition, (No. VII., p. 516, vol. 1.) ; it is unnecessary, of course, to 
reproduce them in the translation.] 



Court. The following are the works for which that sanction 
may be given. 

Drainage of land. 

Reclamation of land from tidal or other waters. 

"Reclamation of Bog land, and cultivation of Waste land. 

Making of roads and fences. 

Erection of farm buildings ; houses for stewards, labourers, 
or other persons employed in superintending the cultivation 
of, or in cultivating land; and of other buildings for farm 

The renewal or reconstruction of any of the foregoing 

When the Limited Owner intends to make any of these 
improvements, he must lodge with the proper officer of the 
Landed Estates Court a statement of the particulars of the 
intended improvements, of the estimated expense of effecting 
them, and the name and residence of his successor in the 

Previously to giving his sanction the judge must hear the 
successor, if he object to such improvements. The judge may 
also, if he think fit, make enquiries by means' of Valuation 
Commissioners or Surveyors as to the nature and utility of 
these improvements. 

If upon enquiry the judge decide that the projected improve- 
ments are beneficial to the parties interested, and if the proposed 
expenses appear to him reasonable, he may give his sanction. 

During the progress of the works the successor, or any person 
authorized by him in writing, may inspect them. 

Upon the completion of the improvements, the Limited 
Owner must lodge with the officer of the Landed Estates Court 
a statement verified by affidavit, sworn before a Commissioner 
or other duly authorized officer, of the expenditure incurred, 
to an amount not exceeding the estimate sanctioned by the 

If no appearance is made on behalf of the successor or inhe- 
ritor, objecting to the amount or employment of the sum laid 
out upon improvements, the judge allows the expenditure, and 
charges the lands mentioned in the order with an annuity of 
£7 2s. for every £100 expended, payable for a term of twenty- 
five years. This declaration of the judge must be forthwith 
entered at Dublin at the Office for Registry of Deeds. 

The same power is granted on the same conditions to corpo- 
rate bodies, whether lay or ecclesiastical. 

The second part of the bill confers on Limited Owners the 
right of granting leases of all sorts : 

Agricultural leases, — 



Improvement leases, — 

Building leases. 

These grants of leases are subject to the following conditions : 

No Improvement Lease is to be valid without the sanction of 
the Chairman of Quarter Sessions. 

No Building Lease comprising more than three acres or 
reserving a rent of more than one hundred pounds per annum 
is to be valid without the sanction of one of the Judges of the 
Landed Estates Court. No other building lease is to be valid 
without the sanction of the Chairman of Quarter Sessions. 

The term of the Agricultural Lease is not to exceed twenty- 
one years ; of the Improvement Lease forty-one ; and of the 
Building Lease ninety-nine years. For the latter kind of lease, 
however, if the Judge of the Landed Estates Court considers 
it to be beneficial to the successor, he may grant power to 
extend the lease. 

Every lessee of an Agricultural Lease is to bind himself to 
use the lands in due course of good husbandry, and not to burn 
any part of the soil without the previous consent in writing of 
the landlord. 

Every lessee of an Improvement Lease is to bind himself to 
execute at his own expense within the time specified in his 
lease, the works specified in such lease and authorized by law. 

Every lease of whatever kind is to be considered as rescinded 
upon non-payment of the rent stipulated. 

The third part of the bill alone treats of the interests of 
tenants ; stipulates upon what conditions they may enter upon 
improvements; and regulates the indemnity to which these 
works entitle them. 

These works are composed of the following : 


Reclamation of Bog Land, or reclamation or enclosure of 
Waste Land. 

The making of farm roads or fences. 


Protection of Land against Inundation, by Embankment. 

The erection or enlarging of farm-houses and buildings for 
agricultural purposes suitable to the holding. 

Before making such improvements the tenant must serve on 
the owner or his agent a notice, under his hand, stating the 
particulars of the intended improvements, the proposed man- 
ner of effecting them, and the estimated expense. The tenant 
can only begin them three months after having served the 
notice, and must have them completed within the two years 

The owner may treat in a friendly way with the tenant for 


the execution by him (the owner) of the proposed works ; in 
which case he may augment the rent by five per cent, on the 

"The owner or his agent may, within three months after 
the service of such notice, give notice in writing to the tenant, 
that he disapproves of such proposed improvements, or any 
part thereof ; and no tenant who has received such notice shall 
be entitled to commence any improvements from which the 
owner has so dissented." 

Upon the completion of the Improvements, in the event of 
the tenant being turned out of the tenancy by the owner 
before such completion, the tenant must lodge with the Clerk 
of the Peace of the County a Statement of the expenditure 
incurred, not exceeding the amount stated in the agreement. 
Upon the receipt of this Statement the Clerk of the Peace 
must serve a notice thereof upon the owner or his agent; in 
order to allow him to present his observations, and if need be 
to prove that the works have not been properly carried out, or 
that they are not worth the sum stated. 

The Chairman of Quarter Sessions, the competent judge in 
such cases, may make inquiries by valuation commissioners, 
surveyors, &c, as to the value of the works carried out by the 
tenant. If he approve of them, he charges the land mentioned 
with an annuity of peven pounds two shillings, for every 
hundred pounds Of the outlay, to be paid to the tenant or his 
heirs or representatives for the term of twenty-five years. 

Where any Improvement is effected wholly or partially by 
the labour of the tenant himself or his family, the value of 
such labour is to be deemed part of the expenditure, and taken 
into account accordingly. 

So long as the annuity is paid, the tenant or his heirs are 
obliged to keep these works in good condition, and to make 
the necessary repairs ; on his side the landlord, or any person 
holding his written order, may inspect the works. 

The owner has also the right of buying off the annuity by 
giving the tenant a sum equivalent to the residue. 

The last clause of the bill formally declares " nothing in the 
act shall be deemed or construed to affect or prejudice any 
usage or custom established or existing in any part of Ireland, 
relating to out-going or in-coming tenants :" — in other words, 
the Tenant-Right of Ulster is preserved untouched. 

Such, in its essential provisions, is the legislative act which 
has been awarded to fifteen years of effort and agitation as 
well within the British Parliament as in the press and in public 
meetings in England and Ireland. 

After a serious and detailed examination of it we may well 

190 LANDED PROPERTY. j" B00K n# 

ask ourselves whether the result is proportionate to the effort ; 
whether this is all that the persistent demands of the press 
might be expected to produce in favour of Ireland's agricul- 
tural classes, supported as were those demands by the conscien- 
tious researches of so many publicists and statesmen ; whether 
in fine some other conclusion was not reasonably to be hoped 
for to the inquiries of so many parliamentary commissions, 
whose labours had during forty years uniformly ended by 
bringing them face to face with this land question ? 

Is it not manifest that in spite of exceptionally favourable 
circumstances* the legislature evinced a circumspection a 
prudence and a reserve unknown, even in the most troubled 
and critical times, to the conservative party, and to the most 
eminent members of the English aristocracy. Compare this 
bill, we do not say with those considered bold, and suspected 
of a tendency to restrict the essential rights of property,! but 
with the bills of Lord Derby, the Duke of Newcastle, and 
Lord Naas ; put it side by side with that enormous mass of 
documents, interrogatories, depositions, and carefully sifted 
evidence, collected upon the landed property question by the 
Commissioners of 1819, 1823, 1830, 1832, 1835, and 1843; 
compare its provisions with the uniform conclusion come to in 
all these parliamentary labours ; and you will ask yourself with 
astonishment whether this can indeed be that exceptional and 
extraordinary legislation, declared by Lord Palmerston, the 4th 
of April, 1856, to be indispensable, if the wounds inflicted upon 
Ireland by bad government were to be closed ! 

On the contrary what can be imagined of more downright 
mediocrity than the bill of 1860 both as to the letter and the 
spirit? what farther from the energetic measures demanded 
even by Lord Derby in 1845? It is well known that he 
would have wished to put a stop to the excessive strides of 
Emigration, and to divert the tenant for the future from 
seeking in distant lands a prosperity which it was in his power 
to create in Ireland could he safely invest in the land the 
double and irresistible force of labour and capital. In what 
manner does the bill of 1860 meet these wishes and realize 
these expectations? 

If in some of its clauses the bill of 1860 attempts to found 
such a system, does it not contain others radically destruc- 
tive of it; since the sole veto of the landlord is sufficient 
to prevent a tenant from entering upon any work calculated 
to better his farm? Can it be seriously maintained that this 

* See opening speech of Mr. Card well. 

+ Such, was the undeserved accusation made in preceding sessions against 
the bills of Mr. Sharman Crawford and Mr. Maguire. 


bill gives the agricultural classes sound guarantees; that it 
opens up to them a new road ; and that for the future the pea- 
sant will have but himself to blame if he vegetate in misery, 
and if time added to years of plenty in nowise better his con- 
dition ? 

We trust the reader will do us the justice to believe that 
these criticisms in nowise proceed from a spirit of systematic 
opposition to any and every law owning an English origin. It 
is precisely on this grave point that we have witnessed the 
most astpnishing unanimity of opinion and judgment among 
men habitually divided upon questions of a different order. 
Discretion forbids us to quote the names of those who have 
honoured us with their opinions ; but this we can fearlessly 
state, that upon this point the Presbyterian landlord, and the 
Catholic bishop, — the whig bound to the present administration 
by interest and sympathy, and the most advanced liberals of 
the national party, — the Ulster as well as the Connacht farmer, — 
the journalist who appeals to the passions, and the man of law, 
the impartial and modest jurist, accustomed to weigh coldly and 
conscientiously every side of a question, and to state his opinion 
with no interest other than that of maintaining the cause of 
justice and truth; — all are of one and the same opinion upon 
this point. The judgments gathered from sources so different, 
whose unanimity does not permit us to hesitate in accepting the 
conclusion to which they have come, may thus be summed up. 

" This bill will remain a dead letter, and will exercise no 
serious influence upon the present state of relations existing 
between landlord and tenant."* 

" Instead of bettering these relations it creates causes of 
conflict. If tenants take advantage of the law, and having 
gone through the required formalities endeavour to force their 
.landlords to consent to improvements, struggles will arise of 
which where the tenant is unprotected by a lease the issue is 
not doubtful; they will engender but fresh and inevitable 
causes of eviction."| 

" Besides, what an amount of complication in the mechanism 
of this bill ! Doubtless the wealthy farmer, with time and 
money at his disposal, will consent to go through these for- 
malities, and will not baulk at steps from which he hopes to 
draw a reasonable profit. But how will the small tenant, w r ith 
but a few acres of land make up his mind to enter upon so 
difficult and complicated a process in order to get permission 
to undertake his modest but indispensable improvements ?"J 
" And would not the prospect of a refusal, and the too well 

* A Presbyterian landlord of Ulster. f Idem. 

X A former functionary of the Incumbered Estates Court. 



grounded fear of bringing upon himself and his family evils 
which it would be useless to bring about by displeasing his 
landlord, be sufficient to scare him from the attempt?"* 

" One clause of the bill would have justified expectations of 
general and serious improvement among the agricultural 
classes; namely that which to the exclusive judgment of the 
landlord upon the utility or projected works added the impar- 
tial and enlightened arbitration of a magistrate. This guarantee 
is however useless to the tenant, since the veto of the landlord 
is absolute and without appeal. This veto is a permanent 
obstacle to the progress and improvement of the condition of 
the working classes."! 

" What change will after all have been effected in the condi- 
tions under which landed property previously existed in 
Ireland? Doubtless the two first parts of the bill, relative to 
improvements made by Limited Owners, and grants of leases, 
will produce satisfactory results ; but they will remain beyond 
the reach of the mass of small tenants;"^: — "and as to the 
guarantees which the legislator intended to secure for them in 
the third part of the bill, good landlords gave them sponta- 
neously before the bill, and bad ones will be just as free to 
refuse them as before the passing of the bill."§ " Practically 
the question will always be one of the personal kindliness or 
malevolence of landlords towards their tenants. Good or bad, 
just or unjust, enlightened or the contrary, the landlord will 
continue to be the sole arbiter of the prosperity and future of 
the agricultural classes. v || 

In fine, — and the questions we are about to put may be 
rightly put in his own name by the publicist to the framers of 
the measure of I860,— in what way does this bill secure. tenants 
for the future from the excessive raising of rents, from the 
arbitrariness of agents, and especially from those terrible 
evictions universally attended with confiscation and destruction, 
which feed emigration, fill the workhouses, perpetuate the 
reign of misery and but too frequently drive the oppressed 
outcast down the slippery path which leads from despair to 
crime ? 

A rapid glance at the dealings between landlord and tenant 
since the enactment of the new bill will furnish the best answer 
to these questions. 

* A Presbyterian landlord of Ulster. 

t A liberal member of Parliament. 

% A Catholic Parish Priest of Connacht. 

§ A Catholic Bishop. 

|| A Dublin Barrister- at-law. One member of Parliament stated that "the 
Government appeared to him to stand in the position of a doctor who was 
treating a hypochondriac patient, and who, thinking it necessary to gratify him 
by prescribing something, ordered him bread pills." — (House of Commons, 
March 27, I860.) 




On the 2nd of November 1860 the bill became law; and three 
weeks subsequently all the papers of Ireland, England, and 
the Continent were filled with the scandalous scenes which 
took place on the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th of the same month, on 
the estates of the Protestant Bishop of Tuam, the harrowing 
details of which we have sketched above.* 

Previous to the session of 1860, the steadiest and m©st de- 
voted friends of the agricultural classes demanded in their 
favour a law capable of protecting them from, and of putting 
an end to, a regime both barbarous and unworthy of a great 
nation ; this wish is at length apparently responded to by the 
legislature ; a new law invested with the royal sanction is de- 
posited in the archives of parliament; and whilst it increases 
by one the collection of royal statutes, the destroying Crow- 
bar is awakening the echoes of the Irish mountains to its 
lugubrious thrust, — the work of Extermination is being pur- 
sued, — and poor women are to be seen near the ruins of their 
humble cabins, making the air resound with the Celtic wail ! 
Are we to conclude from this that the law was not dictated by 
the best of intentions ? By no means ; but it is powerless : besides 
it remains, according to the prediction of its opponents, a dead 
letter. The maze of precautions and formalities in which its 
most salutary clauses and most practical provisions are involved, 
render it impotent to alter or even to influence the strange 
destiny of a people which is still hunted out of its native land, 
and is still flying before the devastating exploits of the 
H Crowbar- Brigade."f 

A little later, during the month of January, 1861, a case 
was brought before the Court of Quarter Sessions, at Bandon, 
in which justice was in conflict with law, and the former was 
once again outrageously sacrificed to the latter. 

It was a question of a farm, for which a lease for. ippree lives 
had been granted in 1798*. In 1827 the tenant died, and was 

* Ante p. 128. 

f " With the exception of large cities that appear indifferent to those cruel 
agrarian evictions, because they do not witness them, there is no portion of the 
rural districts of Ireland that is not at this moment experiencing all the horrors 
of the sheep-walk system that is sweeping away the inhabitants from the 
land." — (Letter of Dr. MacHale, Lord Archbishop of Tuam, to Lord Palmerston, 
1st Jan., 1861.) 



succeeded by his two sons who divided the land between them, 
and obtained from the landlord a promise that the lease of 
1798 should be exchanged for two other leases of ninety years 
each, by which the farm and the rent were to be equally 
divided between them. This purely verbal promise was not exe- 
cuted. The landlord died. His successor denied that he wasbound 
either by this promise, or by the lease of 1798 ; and he served on 
both brothers a notice to quit. Meantime the existence of 
a lease of some sort, and the idea that it would be continued 
upon more certain and more advantageous conditions, had 
induced the brothers to lay out their capital freely. They had 
made considerable advances, hoping that time and future profits 
would more than repay them. They had put up a house, a 
mill, a drying room, and barns ; incurring an expense of £800. 
The landlord appealed to the letter of the law ; no written 
deed was at hand to combat his unjust pretentions; and a 
sentence of eviction was passed by the judge without compen- 
sation for the outlay made by the tenants.* 

In what terms are we to qualify this legal dispossession, and 
this juridical confiscation? Whenever in Ireland Tenant Right 
has been demanded as a protection to the farmer, property 
alarmed has shrieked out : My rights ! my rights ! to the rescue ! 
my rights ! In this case however, who is it that violates the 
sacred laws of property, and at whose expense are they violated? 
What ! exclaimed indignantly a liberal journal ; " there are 
Reformatories for hungry children who steal bread to keep 

life There is the hulk for the poor peasant who digs 

out of the soil which his fathers claimed as princes a few 

turnips to make his miserable meal But there is no 

reformatory for the landlord who has taken at one swoop the 
creations of the industry, the invested savings of one honest 
man's life !'' And this happened three months after the pro- 
mulgation of a law supposed to put an end to arbitrariness, to 
render oppression impossible, to close the wound inflicted on 
the social body by a vicious system, and to inaugurate for the 
labouring classes of Ireland an era of prosperity hitherto un- 
known to them ! In presence of such a law, with such a com- 
mentary, who will be bold enough to attempt to convince us 
that it can cure such inveterate evils, and close for ever the 
fatal traditions of the past, since under the action of this very 
law the very same evils are perpetuated? What Irish peasant, 
however simple and ignorant you may suppose him, will you 
persuade that this law represents the sum of English good will 

* Quarter Sessions at Bandon ; (Mr. Moody, Chairman) ; case of Colonel 
Eyre White Hedges against John Walton. (See Dublin News, 28th Jan., 
1861, and Cork Examiner, 26th Jan.) 



of all parties sincerely united in the desire of renewing the 
face of Ireland ; and that to have done anything more exten- 
sive or better was impossible ? 

The twenty-fifth of March is one of the fatal dates^ for the 
tenant-classes ; it is, as we have said, the ordinary time for 
spring evictions, as Michaelmas is that for those of autumn. 
The spring of 1861 was scarcely different from those which 
preceded it ; except perhaps inasmuch as it witnessed a greater 
quantity of lamentable scenes, and a larger amount of odious 


During the month of April a Waterford journal, under the 
mournful heading " Guests for the Workhouse," informed 
the public that thirty-eight notices to quit had been served on 
the same estate by one landlord, who had just bought the pro- 
perty in the Landed Estates Court. At the same period 
scenes were passing in Donegal which aroused once more the 
universal indignation of all honest consciences, gave rise to 
interpellations in parliament, provoked the merciless censure 
of journals even the most devoted to the cause of landlords, 
and awaked upon the continent the ever faithful echo of 
French sympathy for a people oppressed with impunity under 
" the freest and most liberal constitution in the world, ( ! )" and 
in the name of the law itself. 

The details of this latter affair we borrow from one of the 
journals of the Orange party, the Londonderry Standard, 
whose views are uniformly and systematically hostile to Catho- 
licism. The case is one of thirty-nine families who were 
turned out, because the landlord's agent had been murdered 
[had at least been found dead] in the district, and because all 
the researches of justice had failed to make out the assassin.* 

After a legal judgment pronounced by the Court of Com- 
mon Pleas, the under-sheriff of the county put at the disposition 
of the owner a body of two hundred constables, commanded 
by three sub-inspectors. 

The constables halted at Loughbarragh ; and the under- 
sheriff accompanied by a small body of them made for a house 
in which lived a poor widow, sixty years of age, and her seven 
children, six daughters and a son. When the unfortunate 
family saw the armed men make for their dwelling, they filled 
the air with their piercing cries. The under-sheriff however 

* The notorious affair of Mr. John George Adair, (Derryveagh, Letterkenny, 
county Donegal.) See Dublin News of 12th, 20th, 25th and 30th April, 14th 
May, 10th, 25th, 26th, and 29th of June 1861 ; the Sligo Champion ; the Gal- 
way Vindicator ; the Newry Examiner ; the Tipperary Vindicator ; the Cork Exa- 
miner of April 15th ; the Glasgow Free Press ; the Western Daily Mercury 
(Plymouth), of April 24th ; the Dulbin Evening Post ; the Irish American ; and 
lastly the Morning Star, (London). 




entered the cabin, and gave possession to the landlord's agent; 
and upon a given signal the men of the Crowbar Brigade 
immediately set to work. 

Whilst the roof and walls of the poor cabin were falling 
under the thrusts of the lever, the aged woman and her seven 
children, seeing themselves suddenly reduced to the extremity 
of distress, without a shelter for the coming night, threw 
themselves on the ground in the depth of their despair. Their 
cries, mingled with the old Irish wail, produced upon the 
spectators an impression of terror and of profound compassion. 
The constables, whilst obeying the orders of their officers were 
moved even to tears.*' 

As soon as this cabin was completely destroyed, the under- 
sheriff and his troop continued the same work upon the others 

These evictions and demolitions, began on the Monday 
morning, continued until towards mid-day on Wednesday 
April 10th. Thirty-six houses or cabins were demolished .f 

* "The scene then became indescribable. The bereaved widow and her 
daughters were frantic with despair. Throwing themselves on the ground they 
became almost insensible, there bursting out in the old Irish wail, — then 
heard by many for the first time, — their terrifying cries resounded along the 
mountain side for many miles. No one could stand unmoved. Every heart 
was touched ; and tears of sympathy flowed from many. The police-officers 
themselves could not refrain from weeping." — {Londonderry Standurd.) 

t In spite of the inevitable monotony of such a list, we must give it in full, 
according to the Protestant paper. The following is the number of families 
evicted, and of dwellings destroyed : 

1. Hanna M 'Award, widow and seven children . . ,8 

2. Charles Doohan, his wife, son and two grandsons . . .5 

3. Francis Bradley, his wife and five .children . . . .7 

4. Patrick Bradley, his wife and four children . . . .6 

5. Roger O'Flanagan, his wife, brother, mother and four children . 8 

6. James Gallagher, his wife and seven children . . .9 

7. Brien Doherty, his mother, sister, and one child . . .4 

8. Hugh Coll, his wife and four children . . . .6 

9. Patrick Devenny, his wife and two children , . .4 

10. John Friel, his wife and two children . . . .4 

11. Michael Friel and his child . . . . . .2 

12. Bobert Burke and his wife . . . . . .2 

13. Charles Callaghan . . . . . . ,1 

14. John Moore, his wife and two children . . . .4 

15. Manus Bedden, his brother and two sisters, all orphans . . 4 

16. Bernard Callaghan, his mother and brother . . .3 

17. Knocker Kelly and two servants . . . .3 

18. William Armstrong and three children . . . .4 

19. Alexander Lawn, his wife and four children . . .6 

20. Bose Dermott, orphan . . . . . .1 

21. Daniel M 'Award, his wife and six children . . .8 

22. William Woohan, his wife and four children . . .6 

23. Patrick Curran, his wife and five children . . . .7 

24. Owen M 'Award, his wife and three children . - . .5 

25. Mary M 'Award, widow and three children . . .4 

26. Daniel Friel, his wife, mother, brother and one child . . 5 

27. William M 'Award, his wife and two children . . .4 


Thirty-nine families, forming a total of two hundred persons, 
were thus thrown on the high way, and out upon the moun- 
tains, without a shelter. 

Of these two hundred persons thirty-seven were women and 
121 infants of tender age. 

In all these cases the same scenes of despair were renewed 
M-hich had so strongty shaken the constables on the destruction 
of the first cabin. 

One old man was especially remarked. " On leaving his 
house for the last time," says the paper already quoted,* " he 
reverently kissed the door-posts with all the impassioned 
tenderness of an emigrant leaving his native land. His wife 
and children followed his example, ere those familiar old walls 
gave way before the crowbars, and in an agonized silence the 
afflicted family stood by, and watched the destruction of their 

As evening came on, a fine drizzling rain began to fall, which 
rendered the situation of these two hundred victims more 
intolerable. They tried to shelter themselves under the neigh- 
bouring hedges, and to light a turf fire, in order to prevent the 
women and children from being frozen by the night cold and 
the rain. The workhouse of Letterkenny was more than six- 
teen miles distant, and the neighbouring tenants, had, it is said, 
received orders to give them no shelter.f 

The constables were indignant that the poor-house officer 
who had been informed of the execution did not appear, in 
order to provide for the first wants of these two hundred people 
turned out without shelter and without food. 

The unfortunate people bore testimony to the kindness of the 

28. James Doherty, his wife and one child . . . .3 

29. John Bradley, his wife and three children . . . .5 

30. Michael Bradley, his wife and four children . . .6 

31. Catherine Conaghan, widow, her sister, brother-in-law, and two 

children . . . . . . .5 

32. Edward Coyle, his wife and one child . , . .3 

33. Knocker Friel, his wife and six children . . . 8 

34. Edward Snlleny and three children . . . .4 

35. Daniel Doherty, his father, mother and two children . . 5 

36. Bryan Doherty, his wife and four children . . . .6 
Besides these the three following families were evicted hut their dwellings 

were not destroyed : 

Hugh Sweeney, and two sons . . .3 

James Sweenej^, his wife and eight children . . 10 

Owen Sweeney, his wife, mother and eight children . 11 
Lastly, three other families were kept as weekly-tenants ; that is to say, 
the proprietor reserved to himself the right of evicting them within seven days 
after notice. They were not even tenants in the ordinary sense of the term. 
* Londonderry Standard. 

t" It is said that the householders on the other side of the lake were warned 
not to harbour them, and the poor-house being at Letterkenny they could not 
walk so far." 



unci er-sheriff and the constables in the performance of their terri- 
ble work. No attempt at resistance was made ; and in this, as in 
many other similar cases, the tears of the victims were the only 
protest against so cruel a contempt of the rights of humanity. 
What an empire has not Christian faith over those poor Irish- 
men, since it is powerful enough with them to suppress even 
the outburst of despair ! To see the house in which he was 
born and bred pulled down, and the helpless and cherished 
ones of his bosom, his wife and children, thrown out upon the 
road half naked ! Do we rightly realize how much energy 
and supernatural courage a man must have at such moment, 
in presence of such a sight, to thrust down the tempest of 
desolation and revenge which rises up from the innermost 
depths of the heart, which bewilder men, and are mighty 
enough to turn the scene of these evictions into a bloody battle- 
field ? 

Here again the faith of the oppressed is a source of protection 
to the agents of the persecutors. On the eve of the terrible 
execution, the priest had gone from cabin to cabin ; he had 
administered the last sacraments to the sick who were on the 
morrow to be taken in their bed-clothes and exposed to the 
raw air; he had quieted the hottest and most exasperated, had 
spoken to all words of conciliation and peace, and had exhorted 
the people to confide their cause to Him who hears the groans 
of the poor, and who despisethnot the prayer of the oppressed* 
A few days afterwards the greater part of these unfortunate 
people were shut up in the Workhouse.j 

For those w T ho are obliged to remain there, all hope of human 
and temporal happiness is at an end ; family ties are severed ; 
the possibility of creating for themselves by their work an 
honorable position in the society of their fellows no longer 
exists ; for them all earthly hope is at an end. Is not the work 
of which they are the victims truly a work of extermination 
and death? 

Universal and formidable was the noise created by this 
lamentable affair both in the press and among the public. The 
barbarous proceeding which had at one stroke reduced forty 
families to the most absolute distress was mercilessly stigma- 
tized by men of all parties and of all opinions. 

The landlord had but one thing to say in his defence: 

* "N"on despiciet preces pupilli." — (Eccli. xxxv. 17-) " Ego audivi gemitum 
filiorum Israel." — (Exod. vi. 5.) 

t Since that time subscriptions organized in Ireland, England, France, and 
especially in Australia, produced a sum sufficient to enable those of the Derry- 
veagh tenants young and strong enough to undergo the fatigues of a long 
voyage to emigrate. They embarked for Australia at the end of January 



namely that he was not the only one who had acted in that 
manner; and that deeming it necessary to intimidate his 
tenants by an act of rigour he had only applied one of the 
principles of the old Saxon law, still in force in the Malicious 
Injury Act, which holds the whole of the inhabitants of a dis- 
trict responsible for crimes committed or wilful damage done 
within it. 

In fact but a few months previously an illustrious landlord 
in the South of Ireland had scandalized the world by pretend- 
ing to apply in a similar case this principle of the responsibility 
of all for a single criminal. 

A murder had been committed upon the estates of Lord 
Derby,at Doon (county Limerick). The murderer had eluded all 
pursuit. Were the people of the place morally guilty of compli- 
city with him, by refusing to tell what they knew, and thus 
to lend a hand to justice in its investigations ? We cannot say. 
In any case the perpetrator of the murder remained undis- 
covered. Lord Derby then got notices to quit served upon 
eight or nine families who lived nearest to the theatre of the 
crime; and at a tory banquet, given shortly afterwards at 
Liverpool, attempted to justify his conduct by appealing to 
the traditions of the Saxon code, and to the necessity of 
preventing similar murders by the fear of the terrible chastise- 
ment of eviction. 

The sentence was to be carried into effect on the 25th of 
March 1860 ;* but public opinion was strong against the use of 
a practice borrowed from barbarous times, and unable to reach 
the criminal, if reach him it does, but at the expense of a great 
number of innocent men. It was then that a Protestant gen- 
tleman an ex-member of parliament, wrote to Lord Derby a 
public letter, in which he showed with iron logic all the ini- 
quity and arbitrary violence of such a measure. 

The principle of the English constitution, my lord, said Mr. 
Sharman Crawford, — (and how comes it that Mr. Adair did 
not turn these noble words to account ?) — is that every one who 
is not proved guilty ought to be presumed innocent. But you, 
my lord, you reverse this principle ; you create a new criminal 
code; and you place in the hands of the landlord a triple 
power, — legislative, judicial, and executive, — for the punish- 
ment of crimes whether real or but suspected. Once entered 
on this career of arbitrary power, where are we to stop? Is 

* The very day upon which the Correspondant published, upon the question 
of Irish Tenants, an article in which the present writer spoke of this affair of 
Lord Derby, and in which, without knowing the subsequent termination of the 
matter, he expressed a confident hope that Lord Derby would give way before 
this manifestation of opinion, and would do homage to it by not pushing his 
threat any farther. 


that the way you would pretend to ameliorate the condition of 
Ireland ? 

Besides, (he continued,) sentence of expulsion pronounced 
against tenants for such a reason amounts for them to sentence 
of death. What landlord will admit them after it? And 
what will become of these unfortunate people who have not 
the means even to emigrate? 

It is for you, my lord, — concludes Mr. Crawford, — to see 
and to judge whether under these circumstances you have 
fulfilled your duty as a landlord, and I may add as a Christian, 
in causing a notice to quit to be served on your tenantry at 
Doon merely because you suspect a crime of which it would be 
impossible for you to demonstrate the existence before a jury 
by any satisfactory evidence.*" 

This appeal to the better sentiments of justice and humanity 
was not made in vain. Instead of braving public opinion, 
Lord Derby had the noble simplicity and courage to respect it. 
The sentence of eviction was not carried out. We may affirm 
that Lord Derby has no reason to repent having laid aside, 
in such a case, the " principles of Saxon law." By respecting 
the rules of English procedure, which prefers letting the 
guilty escape to smiting the innocent, he has strengthened his 
rights, and secured the interests of his property, by an improve- 
ment in his relations with his tenantry. 

To conclude: the example of Lord Derby, far from justify- 
ing Mr. Adair, was an unmistakeable condemnation of his 
conduct and of the inflexible rigour with which he availed 
himself to the utmost of the rights of property. 

This condemnation was speedily followed by the indignant 
cry of all consciences. The English papers themselves gave 
vent to their feelings in terms which had they come from an 
Irish pen would have been taxed with exaggeration and par- 
tiality, and which form a crushing accusation against the 
exterminating landlords. 

Tacitus, — said the Morning Star of April 15th, — makes men- 
tion of four hundred slaves who were put to death because 
one of them had assassinated their patrician master. Con- 
sidering the contempt which the Romans professed for their 
slaves, this massacre was almost less atrocious than the act 
which has just been accomplished, under the cloak of kw, by 
a landlord in the north of Ireland. Is it not truly horrible ? 
Yet the account does not come to us from India, or New 
Zealand: it is among the subjects of the Queen of England, 
and within less than twenty-four hours distance from her 

* In the Freeman ; Letter to Lord Derby, 13th Nov., 1859* 


palace, that these things have been done. We try in vain to 
be calm before such an act. No doubt the law allows a land- 
lord to do what he likes with his ienants-at-will, and to sweep 

them away from him when he choses but 

" the moral sense of modern society is more powerful than 
such laws, and surely this proceeding is as shocking an outrage 
upon that moral sense as has been suffered for a long time." 

"In what times do we live? — under the rule of 

law, or that of petty local tyrants who make their caprice or 
passion their guide?" ...... "The interests of these land- 
lords themselves as well as the credit of our law, civilization 
and Christianity demand such a legislative change as will de- 
prive the Irish proprietor of the power of making himself jury 
judge and executioner upon the innocent of undiscovered 

Another English paper, the Western Daily Mercury, of Ply- 
mouth, was neither less energetic nor less severe: 

" We denounce the atrocities of the past; why should we 
be reticent with regard to those enacted in the present? We 
stigmatize the tyrannies practised in other lands : shall we be 
silent as to those practised in our own ?" There has been a 
crime; but must we punish the innocent for the guilty? — 
" Are we to take the law into our own hands, and avenge one 
crime by perpetrating another which is no less a crime because 
it is sanctioned by usage ?" 

At the same time that the press was engaged upon this 
affair, and was unanimous in protesting against the Derry veasjh 
evictions, the same protestation was made on three nights in the 
House of Commons; (April 12th, April 19th, June 25th.) 

Mr. Scully — begged of parliament not to devote its attention 
exclusively to the oppressed nationalities of the Continent, but 
to reserve some small share of its solicitude for the poor people 
of Ireland, the victim of abuses which were " a real scandal 
to civilization and Christianity."* 

Lord Fermoy did not hesitate to say that when the rights of 
property were exercised in so barbarous and anti-Christian a 
manner, it was the duty of goverment to interfere and put down 
such excesses.f 

On the 19th a discussion arose relative to a motion made by 
Mr. Scully, to withdraw from the proprietor who had so out- 
rageously violated the principles of humanity and justice the 
royal commission of Justice of the Peace : and as a certain 
member attempted to justify the landlord's conduct, Mr. 
Monsell spoke strongly against this apology and added the 

* House of Commons, April 11th. + Idem. 



censure of indignant honesty to those which had already fallen 
upon the exterminator.* 

The motion was again brought forward on the 25th June: 
but the fear of bringing public authority to interfere in matters 
in which English tradition is so jealous of any state controul 
caused the rejection of the motion, and the house passed to 
the order of the day. 

If government did not think proper to approve the universal 
censure elicited by the conduct of the Donegal landlord by a 
repressive measure, we are bound at least in justice to state 
that it attempted to check him in his revengeful and arbitrary 
proceeding. In a letter written a few days previously to the 
lamentable scenes we have just described, the Lord Lieutenant 
disclaimed in the name of the crown all responsibility for a 
measure which was to result in the utter destitution of two 
hundred persons.f 

In presence however of a ruined village and of an unjustly 
proscribed population does the repetition of a but too celebrated 
saying suffice: "lam innocent of the blood of these just men, 
look you to it, (Irish landlord/): as for us, (Ministers of the Crown) 
we wash our hands of the affair !" 

Another eviction took place at the same time in the county 
of Kilkenny, less ruinous indeed in its consequences, but more 
extraordinary in the circumstances which accompanied it.J 

A family named Cormack held, under the illustrious house 
of Ormond, a farm of considerable extent in the district of 
Coolaghmore. A long lease, the kindness of successive in- 
heritors of the estate, and the confidence of the tenant result- 
ing from that kindness, had totally changed the face of the 
land which had been the subject of the original contract. The 
Cormacks had laid by wealth, and had increased the value of 
the farm by £300 per annum. On the falling in of the lease, 
they immediately offered to add that amount to the previous 
rental. A refusal, followed by a notice to quit, was the only 

* He asked " whether anybody could for a moment palliate conduct attended 
with such frightful results to such a number of people." — (Mr. Monsell ; House 
of Commons, May 19.) 

t This letter, written to Mr. Adair by order of the Lord Lieutenant, is quoted 
in the Western Daily Mercury, of Plymouth, and also in the Dublin News of 
the 26th. The following are the very words of the document : 

"While his excellency does not question your undoubted right to dispose of 
your property and the tenantry who occupy it in such a way as you may be 
authorized by law to do, his excellency nevertheless feels it his duty to call 
your attention to the serious responsibility which will attach to so extensive an 
operation as you appear to contemplate by the simultaneous eviction of fifty 
families from their holdings, and to the results which may arise from its being 
carried into effect." 

X See the Kilkenny papers from April 18th to May 3rd. 



answer received from the agent of the young landlord, a minor 
who is finishing his education at one of the universities. 

This case is not one of a family beggared ; for the Cormacks 
were large farmers, long settled in the country, to whom their 
industry had brought wealth. Neither is the question here 
as to the right of the proprietor to eject a tenant, even without 
a reason, in order to replace him by others. In all this there 
is doubtless nothing but what is very rightful in law, being of 
the strictest legality. But what was decidedly unjust, although 
legal, was the dispossession of a family of what the labour of 
its fathers had handed down to it for seven generations : that, 
by an arbitrary act, the proprietor should seize for his sole 
profit the entire body of improvements which two centuries 
of cultivation of an originally sterile tract of land had neces- 
sitated, the value of which tract had by these improvements 
been increased to the amount of £300 per annum. Observe : 
the case is ever one and the same: confiscation, on a large 
scale, and an attempt to screen behind the legal, rights of 
property the violent proceedings of dishonest cupidity. 

The Cormack family had long been known and respected in 
that part of the country. The Tipperary farmers in the moun- 
tains bordering on the Coolaghmore land have got in times 
past into such formidable repute,* that the authorities did not 
deem it prudent to attempt the eviction with the ordinary 
police force and men of the Crowbar Brigade. Orders were 
accordingly given to four batteries of Royal Artillery to march 
upon Coolaghmore. This was the first time that in Ireland 
recourse had been had to this arm of the service to carry into 
effect sentences of eviction ; possibly these very artillerymen 
sent upon this strange expedition had encamped under the 
walls of Sebastopol ; what a humiliation to brave soldiers to be 
obliged to act in such an execution ! 

The scene which followed is related by an eye-witness ; and 
shortly afterwards the details were confirmed by a magistrate,! 
who publicly challenged contradiction to the statement he 
made in several letters written to a Dublin paper J 

On the 16th of April, at eleven o'clock in the morning, the 
troops ordered out by the sheriff of the county were ranged in 
order of battle around the Cormack's house, the young mistress 
of which had been married the previous week. The guns had 
even had to pass under the arch thrown across the road by the 
villagers in honour of the bride, which had not yet been taken 

* The county Tipperary is one of those in which the greatest number of 
"agrarian murders" have been committed. 

t Mr. Daniel Welply of Skibbereen, J. P. 

J "For the truth of the statements contained therein," said he," I shall hold 
myself responsible. " 



The shutters of the house were closed, and the doors bolted 
within. They were forced one after the other by the hammer 
and the crowbar. It was a regular siege, which lasted several 
hours ; although the only persons within to resist this violent 
aggression were a few women and children. 

When at last the doors were torn into pieces, the constables 
emptied the apartments of everything ; beds, chairs, wardrobes, 
piano, toys, china, all was thrown out in disorder on the lawn. 

The captain in command of the artillery then asked and 
obtained leave to withdraw with his men, his guns, and thirty- 
two horses, and made for Kilkenny. Scarcely however had he 
set out when the order was countermanded. The Tipperary 
peasantry had been unable to look quietly on this strange and 
undeserved chastisement of an old and respected family. 
Their numbers and their threatening attitude gave the police 
officers reason to fear a conflict. The constables were not 
sufficiently strong to make head against them. The artillery 
was retained until late in the evening, and the legal eviction 
of the Cormacks was effected under the actual protection of 
their cannon. 

From all this one thing is pretty evident: that the English 
government, so scrupulous and so reserved when the life of 
two hundred and fifty persons is at stake, is troubled with 
neither doubt nor hesitation when the rights of property have 
to be vindicated by armed force. 

Weighing these sad facts conscientiously and with the 
coldest impartiality, can we now be astonished to see Ireland 
" disafected" and " disloyal" when no quarter passes without 
some similar scene to move the very bowels of the people with 
the bitterest memories of the conquest? when the authority of 
a crown, borne by so noble a woman, by so estimable a mother, 
by a queen so justly loved and revered, shows itself to that 
people under no other form than the cannon and the levers of 
the Crowbar Brigade? when that people knows that the most 
crying injustices, although disavowed by ministers, stigmatized 
by magistrates, condemned by parliament, and blighted with 
the ban of European opinion by the press both English and 
Irish, Catholic and Protestant, have still in their favour the 
letter of the law ? How, once more we ask, how attempt to 
persuade that people that the Bill of 1860 is to better their 
condition, and inaugurate for them a new future, when in 
1861 they are spectators of evictions more odious and revolting 
than any even that have preceded them? 

Step out of the maze of minute particulars which make up 
the bill of 1860, and of those complicated forms through which 
men of the law alone can find a path : without bewildering 


yourself with the formulas of this legal jargon, stop for a mo- 
ment beside the peasant as he digs out his scanty crop from 
his little strip of land, and as he gives you a cordial greeting 
ask him how he is affected by this famous bill, about which the 
ministerial press has made so much ado, and which has been 
praised to the skies by official publicists. Is the future any 
more certain for him ? Is his rent less heavy and more reason- 
able? Is he freer to vote according to his conscience at the 
next elections? Hard work has enabled him to lay by ten 
pounds. To what use will he turn them? Will he attempt 
to make his way through the labj^rinth of your law, in order 
to get his landlord's permission to lay this money out in " im- 
provements?" Or rather has he not already been seeking 
information at the nearest emigration agency? Is he not 
rather bent upon joining beyond the seas those relations or 
friends who have gone before him to America, and who after 
having like him been unfortunate in Ireland have already begun 
to lay by money in a free country, and who press him to come 
and share with them a better lot? 

The grave question of landed property is then still unsolved : 
it still remains for Ireland a source of distress and oppression. 

How urgently notwithstanding is not a satisfactory solution 
of that question required, in a country where commerce and 
industry employ but a small number of hands, and where for 
the greater part of those who do not gain their livelihood in 
agricultural labour, there is neither lucrative employment, nor 
honest means of living ? 

We shall endeavour to examine these further questions in 
the following Book. 





Ireland is naturally fertile, and yet the agricultural class lives 
in wretchedness upon the land it tills. Ireland possesses great 
industrial resources, and yet manufactures are more backward 
there, more shackled, less productive, than husbandry. They 
do not afford sufficient work to the arms which the consolida- 
tion of farms leaves idle : they afford neither work nor wages 
to the families which hunted in from the country are obliged 
to huddle together in the towns. This fresh contradiction 
requires explanation. 

In the first place, is it true that Ireland has been abundantly 
gifted by Providence with the resources indispensable to manu- 
facturing enterprise?* 

The three elements which go to make up the complex whole 
called the industry of a nation are these : — 

The motive agents of modern industry, or the Implements 
necessary for work: 

Mineral and vegetable wealth, — which are useless to man in 
the raw state, and which necessarily require the co-operation 
of industrial action, — or in other words the Material to be 
wrought : 

Those lusty arms, which are employed afar in reclaiming 
the American savannahs, or in tilling the rich soil of Australia, 
and of which the great manufacturers of Leeds, Manchester, 
and Birmingham proclaim the worth, by calling them into their 
manufactories, — in other words, Workmen. 

* We confine ourselves on this point to abstract from the learned work of 
Sir Eobert Kane, Pres. Queen's Coll. Cork : The Industrial Resources of Ireland, 
(Dublin, 1844.) 


To these three elements must be added facility of commu- 
nication and the vicinity of the markets; the presence of 
consumers; and finally that without which all the rest is 
powerless, namely, the outlay of capital and the spirit of 

Of all these resources which are those at the command of 
Ireland? How comes it that compared with England, her 
neighbour, and her so-called sister, Ireland is so backward in 
the matter of manufactures as even to be indeed still in the 
very infancy of industrial life ? 

First : it is not hands that are wanting to manufactures ; it 
is on the contrary because manufactures in Ireland are not 
sufficient to employ them and to meet the wants of the work- 
man that thousands offer themselves yearly to the English 
and Belgian workshops. Eight years ago the number of 
Irishmen settled in Liverpool amounted to 50,000 ;* in the 
county of Lancashire to more than 100,000 ;f and in the same 
proportion in all the great manufacturing centres, in Leeds, 
Sheffield, Birmingham, without mentioning that population 
which hives together in the east of London, and which has 
given such a sad celebrity to the Irish courts of the East-end. 
Irish workmen are equally numerous in the workshops and 
manufactories of the Brabant provinces in the south of Bel- 
gium, and in the north of France. 

Now why do these myriads of hands enlist in the service 
of rival or foreign manufactories? Is Ireland then without 
the instruments and materials necessary for manufactures? 

On the contrary she is abundantly provided with them. 

If coal is less plentiful than in England, still it is found 
in considerable quantities; and geologists count no less than 
seven immense coal-beds, rich in anthracite in the southern 
half of the island, and in bituminous coal in the northern 
half t 

Moreover, the whole of the north-west, which presents such 
immense obstacles to the development of agriculture by reason 
of the bog lands of which it is almost exclusively composed, 
has been compensated for the sterility and absolute nudity of 
its soil in the deep turf which extends from Galway up towards 
the county Leitrim. The heating power of turf, it is true, is 
less by one-half than that of coal ;§ and up to the present 
sufficient exertion has not been made to extract from it the 

* Leon Faucher ; Etudes sur V Angleterre, &c. ; L, 180. 

f lb. p. 266. (The reader will find more minute details and more recent 
figures on this subject farther on, in the Book on Emigration.) 

X Thorn's Off. Direct. 1861, p. 687- Industrial Resources of Ireland, p. 1 to 40. 
Treatise on Modern Geography, by the Christian Brothers, p. 55. 

§ Industr. Mes. ; p. 35. 


water to allow of its use in furnaces workshops and steam 
engines. It is however certain that this is a combustible of 
which the importance will be better appreciated according as 
the national manufactures are developed.* 

Water is another powerful auxiliary of manufactures, where 
the necessary resources exist for directing it, governing it, 
and applying its motive power to the vast undertakings of 
industry. It needs but to glance at a map of Ireland to see 
that in water-power she is one of the richest countries of 
Europe. Lakes, rivers, mountain torrents, bounding down in 
majestic cascades, or gliding away to the lakes and the sea 
through the pasturages which they renew and the fields 
which the fertilize, — such are the sights which give us a 
right to say that in this regard Ireland has been treated by 
Providence with visible liberality. Besides Loch Neagh, — in 
Ulster, the largest lake in the United Kingdom, and one of the 
finest in Europe, (its superficies being 98,255, acresj), — Loch 
Corrib, in Connacht, (43,484 acres), — Loch Derg, in Munster 
(29,570),— Loch Mask, in Connacht, (22,219),— Loch Erne, 
in Ulster, (Lower 28,000, Upper 9,278), — and the renowned 
Lakes of Killarney (6111), — Ireland counts no less than 150 
other smaller lakes. $ 

Sir RobertKane estimates the average water-powerof Ireland 
at about three and a-half millions of horse power. Reducing 
this figure to one half, on account of local difficulties which in 
many parts would prevent the use of water-power, the amount 
of that power still remains very considerable, and skilfully 
applied to manufacturing operations might easily make up for 
Ireland's inferiority to England in the matter of fuel. 

If fire and water are indispensable elements in and necessary 
conditions of industrial operations, iron alone can supply the 
instruments without which these operations are impossible. 
Industry makes use of might}?- and powerful machines and of 
instruments delicate and made for almost microscopic work ; 
and iron it is which gives them to her. Three centuries ago 
Ireland was in iron one of the richest countries in Europe ;§ 
and many Englishmen who had settled down in Ireland in the 

* " There is iu our bogs amassed a quantity of tnrf, which, if the peculiar 
characters of that fuel he suitably attended to, may become of eminent import- 
ance to the country." — (Industrial, liesources of Ireland ; p. 40.) 

f For these details see Black's Picturesque Tourist of Ireland ; p. 3 ; Edin- 
burgh, 1860. 

% See the enumeration in the great statistical work entitled : The Parlia- 
mentary Gazetteer of Ireland, vol. L, p. 43 and 44 ; Dublin 1845. 

§ See Natural History of Ireland, published during the first half of the 
seventeenth century by Gerard Boate ; and reprinted by Samuel Hartlib in 
1652, and dedicated, by him to Oliver Cromwell : published a third time in 
I860 by Mr. Alex. Thorn; (p. 104 and seq) 


wake of war and confiscation, turned to account Irish iron, 
which they manufactured and exported to England.* But the 
expense necessary to work the ore in Ireland has for a long 
time been so great, that it has been found more economical to 
import English iron. In 1857 there was but one blast furnace 
at work in Ireland which turned out 1,000 tons of pig iron 
annually-t This falling off is due however to accidental causes, 
and it is not nature in this case that fails to meet the demands 
of society. Iron is in the earth there, in large quantities ; and 
why should not the day come when, as in the time of Crom- 
well and Elizabeth, Ireland may be equal to the production and 
working of a metal so universally used ? If it remains for- 
bidden to Irishmen to fashion arms for the conquest of their 
national independence, may we not at least desire that they 
should owe to none but their native soil' the steam-engine and 
the ploughshare ? 

To pass over the other mineral wealth of Ireland, (copper, lead, 
silver, manganese, &c), it must be observed that that country 
counts among its productions first-rate qualities of beet root 
and fibrous plants ; from the former of which native sugar might 
be got, and from the latter linen and stuffs manufactured. 

It would appear that up to the present the expenses of 
manufacturing beet root sugar have exceeded the profits of 
the manufacturer, and put it out of his power to compete with 
the colonial sugar. Flax and hemp, on the contrary, have 
made considerable progress. In fact the manufacturing opera- 
tions of Ireland are almost exclusively confined to these two 
articles; and if we mention the workshops of Ulster, and 
especially the spinning machines of Belfast, we shall have 
enumerated nearly all. As to silk, woollen, and cotton, they 
scarcely figure at all in the total of Irish manufactures. 

The extension and improvement of the roads, canals, and 
railways must equally be taken into account, if we wish to 
obtain an idea of all the Industrial and Commercial resources 
of Ireland. What advantage, in fact, would a certain spot of 
territory enjoy by possessing coal, iron, or wool in abundance, 
if that point were isolated, and had not easy communications 
with localities where this iron, wool, or coal might find pur- 
chasers, and thus form a commerce? 

Upon this latter point great improvements have been made 
within the last thirty years. As early as 1765 and 1789 the 

* Industr. Bes. p. 117. 

t "Iron ore is found in all the localities of coal, and was largely manufac- 
tured while timber for fuel was abundant ; but in 1857 there was but one blast 
furnace in Ireland which made above 1,000 tons of pig iron." — (Thorn's Offic. 
Direct. 1861.) 



Grand Canal, and the Royal Canal— and afterwards the Ulster 
Canal: — by bringing opposite arms of the sea into communication, 
became precious auxiliaries to foreign commerce as well as to 
that of the interior. The famine of 1847, and the necessity 
of saving from starvation thousands of men by giving them 
work, have covered the most hilly and least frequented counties 
with excellent roads, equal at least to those of England and 
Scotland, and having over the latter the advantage of being 
less full of toll-bars.* 

Finally, from 1839 to 1859, 1,265 miles of railway, divided 
among thirty-seven lines, principal and secondary, have been 
opened for traffic. The number of passengers which in 1839. 
amounted to 1,341,208, amounted in 1859 to 9,445,233: and 
the receipts both from passengers and goods transport has risen 
from £34,716 to £418;066.f , ..." / 

Thus in the interior the lines of communication are multi- 
plied, and meet all the requirements of commerce and industry. 
As to external relations, scarcely any country in the world has 
been favoured to such an extent as Ireland — both as to the 
number and conveniency of her ports and bays, which shelter 
shipping and hold out to maritime commerce of the seas safety 
and advantages of every description. Gal way and Limerick 
for communication with America, the nearest European country 
to which is Ireland ; Derry and Belfast for communication with 
Scotland; Drogheda, Dundalk, Dublin, and Waterford for 
communication with England; Cork with her port of Cove, 
(now called Queenstown), one of the vastest and best situated 
harbours in the world, serving, as a station for the steamers 
plying between Liverpool and America, and which united to 
Cherbourg by a line of steamers would so easily put France 
and Ireland into direct communication; without mentioning 
many ports or havens of minor importance : such advantages 
appear to us to furnish evidence upon which we may rightly 
conclude that Ireland is wanting in none of the resources which 
create, sustain , enrich, and develope a real national industry. ..'., 

* " The roads in Ireland are generally equal to those in England or Scotland, 
and have the recommendation that there are few, [now no] toll-bars." — 
(Black's Guide, p. 5.) 

t Thorn's Off. Direct. 1861 ; p. 718, 719. 




From^ the tim'e %hen Iceland was definitively conquered by 
England, and especially from the end of the seventeenth cen- 
tury, every means were tried by the latter to ruin by penal laws 
and prohibitive measures a competition which might have 
proved fatal to : her. 

At the end Of the seventeenth century a certain branch of 
manufacture had attained a highly prosperous state in Ireland. 
It was especially for all the southern provinces the principal 
source of riches and well-being. This branch w ; as the manu- 
facture of Woollen stuffs. But as the superiority of these 
fabrics over those of England damaged the English manufac- 
turers, the London Parliament resolved upon their annihilation. 
In the month of June, 1698, the Lords and the Commons pre- 
sented to William III. an address, which the king answered 
in words that have acquired questionable celebrity,* as being 
the very echo of British jealousy of the vanquished country 
and its inhabitants : *' I shall do all that in me lies to discourage 
the woollen manufacture Of Ireland."f 

A resolution in Conformity with this request and this pro- 
mise was forwarded to the Dublin Parliament, which had the 
meanness to frame a law upon it. On the 25th of March, 1699, 
an exportation duty was put upon Irish cloths, equivalent to 
absolute prohibition ; and this was followed by the immediate 
ruin of Irish manufactures. " The ruin of these manufactures," 
adds M. De Beaumont, with reason, "was consequently not the 

* The' precise words of the address of the English Parliament are these : 
".We most humbly heseech your most sacred Majesty that your Majesty 
would be pleased, in the most public and effectual way that may be, to declare 
to all your subjects of Ireland, that the growth and increase of the Woollen 
Manufacture there hath loug been and will be ever looked upon with great 
jealousy by all your subjects of this kingdom, and if not timely remedied, may occa- 
sion very strict laws totally to prohibit it, and suppress the same." 

+ "I shall do all that in me lies to discourage the Woollen Manufacture of 
Ireland, and to encourage the linen trade there, and to promote the trade of 
England." — (Quoted by Arthur Young in his Journey in Ireland, Part II. p. 107* 
and by all historians.) ' 



unforeseen effect of measures taken, but was precisely the 
consequence desired and expected from them."* 

Eleven years later, fresh selfish and jealous annoyances on 
the part of the English government threw fresh obstacles in 
the way of the industry and commerce of Ireland. A law of 
Queen Anne forbade Catholics to keep more than two appren- 
tices, f 

The commerce of the seas had as much as internal industry 
been the object of hostile and selfish watchfulness. The Navi- 
gation Laws had radically annihilated all colonial commerce, 
by forbidding the colonies to carry their produce directly to 
Ireland. All colonial produce imported into Ireland was first 
to be unshipped in an English port.J 

Not content with excluding commercial and manufacturing:, 
Ireland from a free and honest competition, the English went 
so far as to attempt to confiscate for their own use the very 
elements of industrial developments Swift affirmed in 1727: 
" As to shipping of its own, Ireland is so utterly unprovided, 
that of all the excellent timber cut down within these [the pre- 
ceding] fifty or sixty years, it can hardly be said that the 
nation hath received the benefit of one valuable house to dwell 
in, or one ship to trade with;"§ — all had been taken over to 
England, and had been used in the construction of fleets 
destined to carry into English ports the produce of the four 
quarters of the world. 

Hence the keen but sad questions which form the body of 
the Querist\\ of Berkeley, Bishop of Cloyne; an intelligent and 
sincere lover of his country. Hence that question so full of 
melancholy irony, in itself so sorrowful a protest against the 
hard lot met with by vanquished Ireland at the hands of the 
victorious metropolis : 

" Whether if there was a wall of brass a thousand cubits 
high" [intercepting consequently all communication between 
England and Ireland] " round this kingdom, our natives might 
not nevertheless live cleanly and comfortably, till the land, and 
reap the fruits of it ?" ^[ 

Already as early as the time of Swift, it is true, there was a 
party which extolled the commercial " prosperity" of Ireland, 
by keeping an exact account of the number of head of cattle, 

* Vol. I.; p. 99. 

t "Papists not to keep above two apprentices, nor under seven years." — 
(8 Anne, c. iii. s. 37 ; 1710.) 

J " No colonial produce whatever being permitted to be brought to Ireland 
until after it had first entered an English port, and been unloaded there." 

§ Dean Swift ; A Short View of the State of Ireland. 

|| Eeprinted in 1847, with the above-mentioned little work of Swift. 

«j[ Querist. Qu. 134. 


and pounds of butter annually exported to England; and then, 
as is still done to-day, Swift and Berkeley exposed in all its 
nakedness the sophistry of this theory. 

Could any foreigner imagine, asks Berkeley, that in a 
country from one port of which, (Cork), 107,161 barrels of 
beef, 7,379 barrels of pork, and £5,729 firkins of butter are 
annually exported, half the population is starving?* 

Whether can we, he asks in another place, talk of the pros- 
perity of our country, so long as our beef is exported and our 
peasants live on potatoes ?f 

Whether is it not the true principle of commerce only to 
import foreign produce in exchange for the surplus of domestic 
produce ?$ 

Can we consider among surplus produce those quantities of 
beef, butter, wool, and leathers which are exported from an 
island whose inhabitants are half naked and starving ?§ 

" Whether it would not be wise so to order our trade, as to 
export manufactures rather than provisions, and of those such 
as employ most hands ?"|| 

But English interests had long before answered these bold 
questions. Agricultural Ireland was to be turned into one 
immense farm for English Protestant colonists. Industrial 
Ireland was to be blotted out, to disappear ; so as to leave a 
clear field for the speculations of London manufacturers.^" 

Two tables in the world by Jove were placed 
For each estate : at one of which we see 
The keen, the wary, and the stoutly braced : 
Aside, the weak who eat their leavings modestly.** 

* Quer. h 143, 143. fQwer., 169. J Quer., 172. 

§ Quer., 173. || Quer., 174. 

^[ Since the abolition by Act of Parliament of the manufacture of Irish cloths, 
Irish wool has been sent in the raw state to the Yorkshire manufacturers to be 
worked there. 

** Laf ontaine, Fable of the Spider and the Swallow : 

" Jupin pour chaque etat mit deux tables au monde, 
L' adroit, le vigilant, et le fort sont assis 
A la premiere, et les petits 
Mangent leur reste a la seconde." 






Measures directly prohibitive of Irish manufactures have dis- 
appeared with the rest of the odious array of the penal laws. 
Since the end of the seventeenth century, and particularly since 
Municipal Corporations have been thrown open, to Catholics, 
we may say that in a commercial and industrial point of view 
Ireland has been, as far as law can now do it, put upon com- 
plete equality with England. 

It is however sufficiently clear that to abolish oppressive 
and selfish laws is not to raise up what tjhose Jaws were 
expressly framed to destroy. In industry an advance °f a 
century gained by one country over another puts competition 
out of the question; especially when the favoured nation 
enjoys unlimited means, ar^d in the other there is air absolute 
want of capital.* England then restored liberty of commerce 
and industry to Ireland 'a.t. a time when she had ^nothing , to 
fear from her generosity ; which was but an get of reparation. 
Things had however by that time taken the required turn; 
the commerce of the world was streaming into the English 
market; and to-day, just as thirty years ago, with the export 
tables published yearly by the Irish Customs before, our eyes, 
we are justified in repeating t}ie question of , the ; Bishop of 
Cloyne: What do all those expprtations of cattle and food 
from a country where such numbers are starving, go to prove ? 

* This decay of the industry and commerce of Ireland, for a moment 
checked by the liberal measures of the Parliament of 1782, lias been pecu- 
liarly sensible at Dublin from 1800 to 1843, as the following table abundantly 
proves : 


Number of Workmen exa- 
, employed in 

Weekly Wagesr 





Woollen stuffs 



£1 10s 


Hat manufacture . 



£1 15s 

10s to 15s 

Bonnet making 



£1 7s 


Silk weaving 



£1 15s 

10s to 12s 




30s to 40s 

6s to 8s 

Skins and Parchment 



£1 10s 


Leather-dressing . 



£3 to £3 18s 

18s to 20s 

Tin working 



£1 15s 


— (Black's Picturesque Guide of Ireland; Edinburgh, 1860 ; p. 41.) 


Would it not be better to export nothing but manufactures 
which keep hands employed, and use our own produce to feed 
and clothe our countrymen ? 

The Irish are certainly not envious of nor do their real 
friends wish to see them favoured with that excess of manu- 
facturing labour which, in France, in Belgium, and more 
especially England, concentrates thousands of workmen 
around a single establishment, to the great detriment both 
of morality and of domestic life,— which too frequently brings 
a man down to the level of the machine he serves, — makes old 
men of children, by excessive work and the premature ravages 
of vice, — and disciplines for the social revolutions with which 
Europe is threatened legions of formidable auxiliaries. 

We must be on our guard here on the one hand against an 
unreflecting enthusiasm, which would see in the industrial life 
of Manchester and Leeds the ideal of a great people's activity; 
and on the other against that retrograde, surly, unenlightened 
spirit, which is perpetually launching anathemas against mate- 
rial progress, and pouring forth maledictions upon commercial 
industry and wealth. 

Industry is nowise bad in itself. What is bad is the 
culpable abuse made of it by speculators, without bowels and 
without morality, who sacrifice to their grasping greed the 
most sacred interests of the working classes, and care little 
whether the factory brutalizes and corrupts the workmen, 
provided it fill the pockets of the master. 

Did agriculture hold out sufficient inducements in Ireland 
to that large class of the population which gives up its life and 
its toil to that pursuit, we should perhaps experience less 
regret at seeing Ireland deprived of that industrial develop- 
ment which is so easily made to run counter to what is good and 
right, and which in the hands of cupidity is but too frequently 
ruinous to the health and the morals of the working classes. 

But in the midst of all the obstacles which impede the deve- 
lopment of agriculture, and with large numbers of peasants 
absolutely unable to secure a respectable future for their 
families by field labour, we may be permitted to express our 
regret at the disappearance of that industry which born upou 
Irish soil, surrounded sustained and vivified by the religious 
traditions so deeply respected by and so strong among that 
people, would open up new fields to activity and enterprise, 
without of necessity introducing among a nation so thoroughly 
Christian, and so justly renowned for the purity of her morals,* 

* A homage rendered there as early as the seventh century by a Welsh 
chronicler: "Inter varias quibus pollet virtutes, castitatis prserogativa prse- 
eminet atquae preecellit. "— (Uiraldus Cambrensis). 




the impiety and depravity which are but too habitually the 
sad attendants of modern industry.* 

The following is, according to the most recent statistics, the 
state of industry and manufactures in Ireland. 

Woollen, Cotton, and Silk Manufactures have not yet reco- 
vered from the blow struck at them by the prohibitive laws of 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. 

In 1856 there were: 

12 Cotton factories, employing 3,345 workmen.f 

33 Woollen factories, employing 890 workmen. 

107 Linen factories (nearly all situated in the province of 
Ulster,) employing 28,676 workmen. 

Embroidered Muslin factories, affording employment to large 
numbers of workmen in Belfast and Limerick.^ 

In England, at the same period, the manufacture of woollens 
and cloth gave employment to half a million of workmen ; that 
of silk to 300,000; that of cotton to 1,500,000.§ 

* " That an increase of manufacturing industry in Ireland would be of the 
greatest value is evident to all. It would relieve the labour market, by the 
additional employment ; it would lessen the competition for land, by affording 
other means of supporting existence ; it would tend to create a middle class, 
the want of which is so injuriously felt by the country." — {The Condition and 
Prospects of Ireland ; by Jonathan Pirn ; Dublin, 1848; p. 156.) 

f Thorn's Off. Direct. 1861; p. 735. The details which follow are taken from 
this book. 

J Another branch of manufacture, viz. , that of printed calicoes, was at one 
time flourishing in Ireland. The principal seat of this manufacture was in the 
County Kildare ; and in 1782 the Dublin Parliament protected the produce of 
these factories against the competition of English calicoes, by putting a duty 
of a shilling per yard upon the latter. By means of this measure Ireland was 
able, in 1784, after having supplied the home market, to export to America 
printed cottons to the amount of £8,000. A singular part of the business is 
that English manufacturers, excluded from the Irish market by the measures 
of the Dublin Parliament, were also roughly handled by the London Parlia- 
ment, which wanted above all to push on the English Woollen Manufacture. 
In 1741, an act of Parliament forbade the English to wear or purchase cotton 
stuffs. This measure was abrogated in 1755, and the manufacture of cotton 
stuffs was authorized, but subject to a duty of 3d. per square yard. Erom 
1789 to 1830 the Irish manufacture of printed calicoes notably increased. Since 
1830 it has rapidly declined ; especially in the north, where in 1836 the last 
manufacture of this kind was changed for cotton spinning. 

§ Treatise of Modern Geography, p. 76.. See also in Thorn, p. 110, the com- 
parative Table of manufactures in England, Scotland and Ireland. The follow- 
ing are a few of the details from this Table : — 


Woollen and 
Cloth ditto. 

Silk ditto. 












This accounts for the fact of Ireland (who could suffice for 
herself, if her natural industrial resources were developed), 
being obliged to look to the English market for supplies. It 
has been calculated that the annual value of English industrial 
produce is £150,000,000; of which Ireland buys up full 
£12,000,000.* Not only then is she not a rival in competition 
with England, but she supplies to England one of her best 
markets. It is from English factories that she receives back 
the cloths and stuffs, the raw material of which she had herself 
supplied, by sending over to England her sheep and her wool, 
the former for the food the latter for the occupation of the 
artizans of Manchester and Leeds. 

The same system of narrow-minded jealousy and selfish 
monopoly has been applied to the Fisheries; which, one would 
think, ought to prove an abundant source of wealth and occu- 
pation to the inhabitants of an island whose coasts are one series 
of gulfs and bays, and which contains in the interior so many 
lakes, rivers, and water-courses of all descriptions. Upon this 
point all authors, whether English or Irish agree: and the 
former as well as the latter, acknowledge and directly state 
that it is by laws alone, either directly or indirectly prohibitive, 
that Ireland has been deprived of so precious a resource, and her 
people reduced to live upon wretched potatoes. Not only the 
land, said the " Dublin Review" for Nov. 1841, (vol. xxxvi.), 
but the very water itself has been confiscated from the people 
of Ireland, by laws the direct reverse of the laws of England, 
and laws constantly enacted ever since the reign of Elizabeth. 
The income of the fresh-water fisheries alone has been esti- 
mated at half a million sterling; and the fish caught is so 
delicate that it is almost altogether consumed in England. A 
" Blue Book" of 1824, (p. 127,) bears witness that if these 
fisheries were properly worked, they would produce so much 
fish that it could hardly find sale in all the markets of England. 

But the proprietors established in Ireland by conquest and 
confiscation did not confine themselves to reserving for their own 
exclusive benefit the produce of the fresh- water fisheries.! 

The monopoly was carried farther, and the natural right of 
fishing in the sea was taken from' the inhabitants of the coasts 
by the landlords upon whom they depended, and who reserved 
the profits to themselves. 

These regulations so tyrannical, and these oppressive laws 
have disappeared ; but that has not sufficed for the immediate 

* Treatise of Mod. Geog. p. 76 and 54 ; Thorn's Offi. Direct. 1861, p 82. 

t Which one might understand up to a certain point : being masters of the 
land, they did no more than extend their right to the waters which ran through 
their domains. 




organization of the men and material necessary for the sea and 
fresh-water fisheries. Too often, even in our times; fishing is 
but a local resource r entirely destitute of importancein a com- 
mercial point of view.* The coasts of Ireland are not less 
adapted than those of Scotland and England to deep-sea fishing : 
nevertheless the greater part of the herrings and other fish 
consumed by the people of Ireland come from Scotland and 
England. t 

The sea fisheries, which had considerably improved from 
1836 to 1845, and from 1853 to 1855, have again evidenced 
a marked decline. Official figures will easily convince us of 

In the annual Report presented to the Lord Lieutenant and 
Parliament during the session of 1860, the Commissioners of 
Irish Fisheries state that of forty stations into which they have 
divided the coasts of; the island, six are nearly in the same 
situation as in 1859 ; eight evidence considerable improvement ; 
and twenty-six are in a less satisfactory state .-■§ 

The two kinds of fishery which in latter times have been 
most developed are that of Salmon and that of Oysters ij| 

It is also within these last few years that devoted and en- 
lightened men have perseveringly endeavoured to give Ireland 
new facilities of maritime and commercial developement. This 

* " The fishermen, except at Galway, are for the most part holders of small 
patches of land, and possess only rude, occasional, and inefficient means of pro- 
secuting fishing."' — {Parliamentary Gazetteer of Ireland, I. p. 97.) 

+ In 1858 there were exported from England 367, 160 barrels of herrings ; and 
34,310 cwt. of cod. Ireland alone figured for 58,534 barrels of , the former, and 
16,447 cwt. of the latter, bought in the English market. — (Anhuaire $ 'J£con . 
Polit. 1859, p. 423.) ; ! 



















'; ': ' 

;- ' 



70,011 ; 




52,231 ' 

\ 48,633 

" The sea fishery still continues in a languid and depressed state."— (Thorn's 
Offi* Direct., 1861 ; p. 734. — See also Condition and Prospects of, Ireland, by 
Jpn. Pirn ; p. 160. ) , 

§ Report of the Commissioners of Fisheries (Ireland) for 1859 ; Appendix, 
No. 8, p. 18-23. 

|| " Considerable activity appears to have taken place in the cultivation and 
protection of the Oyster Fishery. The state of the Salmon Fisheries continues 
to be satisfactory." (Same Report; p. 3 and 4, and foil.; and see Appen. 
No. 6.) 


marked inferiority of the state of the Irish ports in comparison 
with those of England had long been the subject of frequent 
complaints on the part of Irish members, and a grievance 
upon which the national press dwelt with legitimate bitterness. 
Advances of capital-^-advantageous contracts — improvements 
and embellishments — encouragement given to owners — in a 
word, all kinds of financial and commercial favours, — -all 
seemed to flow one way; just as in certain families justice is 
sacrificed to too marked personal preferences* 

The establishment of a transatlantic packet station at 
Galway had been for ten years the special object of these 
efforts. Galway, being the nearest commercial port to the 
American continent, it was and is manifest that to communi- 
cate by this port directly with the United States, and to 
forward by it emigrants, goods and mails, f would be of great 
advantage to Ireland. A considerable time would be gained 
by taking ship at Galway^ instead of going to Cork to wait 
for the Liverpool steamers. It was only in 1860 that parlia- 
ment authorized this new station, and voted the necessary 
grant. The success, a great one, was chiefly due to the 
energy of the Rev. Mr. Daly (then parish priest of Galway) 
in the cause, whom during ten years nothing had been able to 
discourage. N 

Great were the rejoicings at Galway, when on the 27th of 
August, 1860, the members of the local committee engaged 
in the prosecution of this important affair assembled one last 
time to congratulate one another on their victory. Two 
members of parliament assisted at this meeting; Mr. Lever, 
Mi P. for Galway, who had seconded the wishes of his fellow- 
citizens with great perseverance ; and Mr. Roebuck, M,P. for 
Sheffield, who, with other members of the liberal party had 
supported vigorously and victoriously the motion of the Irish 

Unforeseen accidents which happened in the course of last 
year, and the loss by fire of one of the company's finest steamers, 
(the Connacht), the momentary impossibility in which the com- 

.*. Speech on the Causes of Discontent in Ireland, by Will. Smith O'Brien ; 
House pf Commons, 4th July, 1843, p. 13. — Proceedings of the Corporation of 
Harbour Commissioners, Galway, 1857. 

t In 1859 a steamer of this line carried the Queen's Speech over to America 
in six days, and brought back on another occasion the President's Message in 
five days, sixteen and a half hours; (Speech of Mr. Lever, M.P. at Galway, 
Aug: 27, 1860.) ' 

t The subsidy was voted by a majority of 132 votes to 31. Of the 132 ayes 
72 were Irish, and 60 English. There was good reason therefore to thank, 
at the meeting of the 27th August, the English members whose votes had 
ensured the success of ten years of effort, and without whom the wishes of the 
majority of Irish members would have remained sterile. 


pany found itself of fulfilling its obligations to the state, have 
nearly ruined in the outset an enterprise which cost so much 
time and trouble. The subsidy has been withdrawn ; and Irish 
commerce which hoped to reap solid advantages from more 
rapid and direct communication with America is again obliged 
to wait until the London Parliament condescends to turn its 
attention to its enterprises and favour its development. 

To sum up this rapid and incomplete sketch of the Indus- 
trial and Commercial Resources of Ireland, and view it in 
connexion with the rest of our studies, we must observe that 
much still remains to be done for the development of the re- 
rources of that country : that a vast and as yet unoccupied 
field is open to those able and willing to embark capital and 
spirit of enterprise : and that in the difficulties in which, notwith- 
standing recent laws, landed property, agricultural labour and 
the Irish peasantry are entangled, it is much to be desired 
that Industry and Commerce could afford employment to a 
greater number of hands. This would in some manner be a 
counterpoise to the excessive strides of new methods of agri- 
culture, which substitute pasturages for corn crops and reduce 
the number of farms at a frightful pace. By this means per- 
haps, and by opening a new future to families driven away 
from the labour of the fields by eviction and, something ap- 
proaching to some real chance of a livelihood, the decrease of 
population evident from statistics would be checked, a decrease 
arising both from emigration and from the excessive misery of 
the majority of the Irish people. 

In truth, in a country in which excepting the cultivation of 
land there is scarcely any employment for the mass of the 
population, and where at the same time that cultivation is 
carried on under the most disadvantageous conditions, all those 
who feel conscious of any little energy and who have any 
means at command will seek afar, at the price of a painful exile, 
a life less hard, and the chance of bettering their condition by 
labour : all these will emigrate. 

As to those who are, through age and infirmity, condemned 
to remain in the country, — with all hope of productive labour 
and profit gone, — they have nothing to look forward to but 
suffering, and the prolongation of a wretched existence by the 
slender help of legal charity. 

Emigration, — Penury at home, — The life of the pauper in 
the workhouse, — on these most sad subjects what painful reve- 
lations we have yet to make ! 





The question of Emigration had engaged the attention of 
economists and statesmen previously to the years 1846 and 1847 : 
it had already indeed been practically solved, and not a year 
rolled by during which several thousands of Irishmen, weary 
of a struggle against irremediable misery and interminable 
oppression, did not make up their minds to bid a last farewell 
to their dear island, and to seek afar a better lot. The use of 
steam in navigation, too, had facilitated and largely encouraged 
the Emigration movement; by shortening distances, bringing the 
continents nearer together, multiplying communications, and 
substituting in voyages the measure of time for that of space. 
In 1815 the sum total of Emigrants from the United Kingdom 
was but 2,081 : in 1852 the number was 176 times greater, viz., 

This wonderful progress in the means of transport, and the 
increase of the merchant navy during a general peace, 
admitted of a trial of Emigration as a remedy for or at least 
a palliative of Ireland's misfortunes. 

Already as early as the year 1835, a Parliamentary Com- 
mission stated that in Ireland there were two millions three 
hundred and eighty thousand persons liable to die of hunger .f 
As the country was periodically visited by cruel scarcity, it 
was but natural to inquire whether a service would not be 
rendered to Ireland by a multiplication of the means of Emi- 
gration, and by putting this movement under the patronage 

* Twenty -first Gen. Report of the Emigration Commissioners ; 1861 ; Ap- 
pendix No. 1, p. 45. 
t Poor Law Commiss. 1835 ; (Quoted by M. De Beaumont, vol. I. p. 221.) 



of the government itself. At first sight, nothing seemed 
easier than the realization of such a project: but reflexion and 
experience very_ quickly brought to light the difficulties 
attendant upon it. 

In fact, during the fifteen years which preceded the famine 
Ireland alone figured in the sum total of Emigrants for more 
than eight hundred thousand,* Her population however con- 
tinued to increase, on account of the excess of births over the 
number of deaths and departures from the country; and 
during the very year which since 1815 had been marked by 
the greatest number of emigrants, (1841), the Official Census 
stated that the population of Ireland had reached a figure 
never before attained, (but which has since so terribly fallen,) 
namely 8,175,124. 

This result, which seemed to testify to the inefficiency of 
the Emigration system, would have surprised people more had 
it not been foreseen long beforehand i far from contradicting 
the calculations of science, often merely hypothetical, it con^ 
firmed in a surprising tnanner the conclusions arrived at by 
many economists, after a detailed study of the emigration 
question, and an attempt to find but whether or not it was the 
real cure for the social miseries of Ireland. 

It will not be useless to sum up these conclusions, and to* 
show their sagacity and depth as evidenced in events which 
have so fully justified them. 

The celebrated French publicist who was the first to pre- 
sent us with a complete picture of the condition of Ireland^,' 
examining in 1839, how emigration might or might not do 
away with all the misery he had witnessed, proposed to him- 
self the following questions:! 

I. To what extent ought Emigration to be carried, in 
order to bring about a material change in the general state of 

II. Would it be possible to carry it out to the required 

III. Supposing it practicable, would it be a radical and final 
solution of existing difficulties ? 

The advocates of Emigration answered the first question by 
estimating at a minimum! of two millions the number of indi- 

: * The: precise figure is $09, 244 j making an amount average of' 53,949 j 
(Thorn's Off. Direct. 1852, p. 188)- The, figure for the United kingdom during 
the same period is 1,171,485. . . _ 

t M. De Beaumont ; (vol. II. p. 104-122. ) Mv 1 . Jonathan Pirn* examines; 
and resolves in the same way, the same questions, in his fine and important 
work already frequently referred to; The Condition and Prospects of Ireland ; 
(ch.x., p. 163-170.) 

| Some go as far as four r millions. 

CHAP. I.] 


viduals who would have to leave Ireland, at one time, in order 
to produce there that kind of vacuum which would improve 
the conditions of labour and of the existence of the rest of the 
agricultural population. 

, Upon these data, the solution of the second question was 
easy. It was by no means difficult to prove that the system 
was impracticable on so vast a scale : impracticable on account 
of the insufficiency of the means of transport at disposal; 
impracticable on account of the enormous sum required to carry 
it into effect. 

In fact, supposing each emigrant ship to carry a thousand 
passengers (a very large figure), two thousand vessels would 
be required to attain the end in view; namely the sudden and 
universal emigration of the whole so-called " surplus popula- 
tion." That is to say, that the whole merchant navy of Great 
Britain would have to be drawn off from the commerce of the 
world and chartered for the execution of this very chimerical 
plan. Where was the sum required for the most necessary 
expenses and urgent wants of two millions of passengers to be 
got? And what country in the world would have submitted 
to a monster invasion, like those of barbarous times ? Unless, 
indeed, these two millions of individuals were beforehand 
coldly devoted to death by hunger— -was there a single country 
in which it could be hoped they would immediately find work 
or the means of subsistence ? 

Supposing, however, all these impossibilities practicable, there 
comes a third question, the most embarrassing of all. Was it 
quite certain that the system of renting land and that of culti- 
vation always remaining the same Emigration would suffice to 
cure those inveterate sores, and to effect in conformity to the 
wishes of its partisans a social transformation ? 

Upon this point M. De Beaumont showed, in a manner 
admitting of no reply, that the emigration of a third or even of 
half the population would not radically do away with the 
misery of the country. The difficulty is not, in fact, for Ireland 
to produce wherewith to feed her population. No such diffi- 
culty exists. This we think we have proved abundantly 
already. The difficulty lies in the manner in which landed 
property is managed, a system which no amount of emigration 
can possibly modify: for "if one of the first principles of the 
landlord be that the farmer should gain by. tilling no more 
tlian is strictly necessary to support him; if, in addition, this, 
principle be as a general rule rigidly followed out, and a]l 
economical means of living resorted to by the fanner necessa- 
rily induce a rise in the rent;— what, "upon this supposition 
(of the sad reality of which every one knowing Ireland is 



perfectly aware), can be the consequence of a decrease of 
population ?"* 

^ Always obliged to live as sparingly as possible to escape a 
rise in the rent, and forced to undergo daily privations in 
order to meet his engagements, in what manner is the Irish 
farmer to gain by the departure of his neighbour? " Thus, 
after millions of Irishmen have disappeared, the fate of the 
population which remains is in nowise changed ; it will for 
ever be equally wretched. From what precedes, it is easy to 
understand how, a century ago, with but a third of her present 
population, Ireland was quite as poverty-stricken as she is 
to-day, subject then as now to the same causes of misery, inde- 
pendently of her numbers."! 

Then looking upon the past, making a sad enumeration of 
Ireland's losses in population during the last three centuries, 
and evoking from these figures the accents of a moving elo- 
quence, the. illustrious publicist asked himself: how far so 
much bloodshed,— -such armies of individuals stricken down* 
by death or hurried out of the country by emigration, — so' 
many families extinct,— had contributed to restore and to save 
Ireland : 

"Open," he says, " the annals of Ireland, and see the small 
amount of influence which all those violent enterprises and all* 
those extraordinary accidental causes of depopulation have 
had upon the social and political state of the country. Calcu- 
late the number of souls that perished in Ireland during the 
religious wars: — count the thousands of Irishmen that fell 
under the swwd of Cromwell: — to all that the victor mas- 
sacred in Ireland, add the myriads that he transported: — 
think of the hundreds of thousands who sunk under famine, 
the number of whom exceeded in one year (1740) forty 
thousand: — do not forget the thousands carried off by the 
plague and national wars: — take into account those who died 
of sickness and misery : — do not overlook the (formerly) consi- 
derable number who yearly died by the hand of the execu- 
tioner: — in fine, to this add the twenty-five or thirty thousand 
individuals who emigrate from the country every year: — and 
when having laid down these facts, you look for their conse- 
quences, — when in the midst of these different crises you see 
Ireland always and at all times the same, always equally 
wretched, — always crammed with paupers, ever bearing about 
with her the same hideous and deep wounds, you will then 
recognise that the miseries of Ireland do not arise from the 
number of her inhabitants ; you will conclude that it is in the 

* M. De Beaumont, II. 108. t Id., lb.; II. p. 109. 

CHAP. I.] 


nature of her social condition to generate unmitigated indi- 
gence and infinite distress; that supposing millions of poor 
swept out of Ireland by a stroke of magic, others would be 
seen rising up in abundance out of a well-spring of misery 
which in Ireland is never dried up; and that thus the fault does 
not lie in the number of her population, but in the institutions in 
force in the country."* 

It was in view of these sad lessons of the past that the 
truest and most enlightened friends of Ireland advised the 
English government to devote to vast enterprises of reclama- 
tion and cultivation of land the sums deemed necessary for 
the transport of Emigrants. 

The Devon Commission estimated that the yearly Emigra- 
tion of one hundred thousand individuals at the expense of 
government, at the modest figure of £6 per emigrant {i.e. 
£600,000), would amount to a sum which devoted yearly to the 
purchase and reclamation of waste land would undoubtedly 
allow the Irish to live at home, and would put an end to the 
alternative of exile or death.f 

As frequently happens in the affairs of this world, theoretic 
schemes and abstract theories in contact with the force of 
facts and the clash of circumstances have undergone shocks 
so rude as to produce in them considerable modification. That 
wholesale Emigration, in which it was hoped an heroic remedy 
for the misfortunes of Ireland was to be found, has not been 
and could scarcely be realized: but during the last fifteen 
years especially, before a famine which had to be fed at any 
cost, bfeore ever recurring social difficulties, partial Emigra- 
tion, encouraged by government, by landlords, and particularly 
at the present moment by emigrants who have laid by money, 
has attained very considerable yearly proportions. 

* M. de Beaumont ;• II., p. 121. 

+ Jonathan Pirn ; Cond. and Prosp. of Ireland; (p. 171.) — Digest of Evidence ; 
(p. 568.) 


[book it. 



The Official Reports published by the Emigration Commis- 
sioners are like the Book of Numbers of this new Exodus.* 

In the first place comes the general Emigration from the 
United Kingdom. In forty-five years, from 1815 to 1860, 
inclusive, it reached a total of 5,046,067 emigrants. 

These forty-five years are divided into different periods. 

From 1815 to the 31st December 1846, the number of 
Emigrants amounted to 1,672,156; which gives a yearly 
average of 52,254. During four years alone, (1832, 1841, 1842, 
and 1846,) the number exceeded 100,000. 

In 1847 the number of Emigrants suddenly became double 
what it had been in 1846 ; from 129,851 it reached the num- 
ber of 258,270; and with the exception of 1848, each year to 
1852 saw the number of Emigrants increase. During the 
year 1852 Emigration reached as it were its maximum, 
since it then attained the prodigious figure of 368,764; which 
would give an average of over a thousand emigrants daily 
from one of the ports of the United Kingdom. The average 
declined slightly during the following years, still keeping 
however above 300,000 ; so that from the 1st of January 1847 
to the 31st of December 1854, the total number of emigrants 
from England, Scotland, and Ireland amounted to 2,444,802 ; 
or 305,600 yearly. 

This number diminished very considerably during the years 
1855 and 1856; and the Emigration Commissioners give very 
plausible reasons for the decrease : the Crimean and Indian 
Campaigns had on the one hand necessitated enlistment on a 
large scale in the army and navy ; and on the other hand the 
commercial and industrial crises in the United States had 
seriously affected the labour market.f In 1857 Emigration 

* General Reports of the Emigration Commissioners. (In the Appendix the 
complete Emigration statistics of the United Kingdom for the last forty-five 
years will be found) (1815-1860.) 

t ' ' The inducement to Emigration ceased therefore on the other side of the 
Atlantic, at the same time that the inducement to remain became strongest on 
this." — (20th General Report; p. 14.) 



again reached a figure above 200,000, but immediately fell in 
1858 to 113,972. 

For the last three years, although but slightly, the move- 
ment has been gaining ground. From 113,972, in 1858 the 
number of emigrants rose in 1859 to 120,432; and in 1860 to 

The number contributed by Ireland to this amount is well 
known. During the last thirty years (1831 — 1861), of the 
total number of emigrants, (4,645,247,) she figures for three- 
fourths (about 3,097)415.)t 

This frightful proportion has considerably decreased since 
1852. In the year 1860 the Irish Emigrants form but half 
the total amount.^ 

But in order to obtain a clear notion of the exact proportions 
of the Emigration, it is necessary to compare these figures with 
those of the population ; it will then be seen that Ireland pays 
by far the largest share of this annual tribute. 

In fact, upon a total population of 23,123,054 § inhabitants, 
England Wales and Scotland furnished only 35,154 emigrants, 
or one for every 657 inhabitants; whilst Ireland furnishes 
60,835 emigrants upon a population of 5,764,543 souls, or one 
for every 84 inhabitants. That is to say that Emigration from 
Ireland is nearly eight times as great as that from all the rest 
of the United Kingdom. || This proportion would be still greater 
were the precise number of Irishmen known who emigrate not 
to America or Australia only, but to the manufacturing towns 
of England and Scotland.^ 

These figures sufficiently explain why, as in the time of 
Moses, the word Exodus has being applied to the Emigration 
movement. It is truly a whole nation which has started up 

* Everybody anticipates a considerable reduction in the numbers for 1861, 
on account of the War between the Northern and Southern States. 

t Thorn's Official Directory ; 1852, p. 188, 189,— lb. 1861, p. 697 ; -21st 
General Report, Appendix, No. 6. 

X We subjoin the precise figures : — (21st General Report; 1861, p. 54.) 
English, .... 26,421 

Scotch, . . . . 8,733 

Foreigners, .... 4,536 

Without distinction of Nationality, . 27, 944 

Irish, ..... 60,835 


§ We quote the figures of the last Census (1861). (Thorn's Official Directory : 
1862; p. 75 and 79.) 

II The exact proportion is y§^y 

% This observation is confirmed by the statistics of Thorn's large Official 
Almanac for 1861. He estimates at 62,185 the number of Irish Emigrants for 
the first eight months of 1860. (Thorn's Official Directory, 1861, p. 697.) 


at the sight of the threatening spectre of famine, and which 
to escape it has left whatever it loved most in this world, after 
the treasure of its faith, — namely family and fatherland. 



The Emigration movement has been favoured and encouraged 
in divers ways : funds allotted by government ; aid given by 
Poor Law Unions; in certain cases money given by land- 
lords to families whom the land could no longer support, or 
who were obliged to quit their holdings in consequence of farm 
consolidation, to pay their passage to America ; in fine, espe- 
cially of late years, the earnings of emigrants sent over to their 
families or friends, in order to give them an opportunity of 
joining them and of trying fortune; — such have been the 
resources which have met the enormous expenses necessitated 
by the removal of such vast numbers of men. 

The pecuniary aid given by landlords to the Emigration 
movement cannot be elactly ascertained. It has been confined 
to the limits of private charity, and occupies but a secondary 
place in the immense budget of Emigration. 

It is especially Emigration to Australia that the government 
has encouraged by devoting to that purpose the resources of 
the Treasury. In 1861 it furnished 6,409 Emigrants, out of 
18,577, with the means of settling down in the South Sea 
Colonies.* In twenty-seven months, also, (from Jan. 1st, 1859, 
to March 31st, 1861), it sent to the Cape 5,465 emigrants, 
besides 365 to Natal. 

As early as 1848 the Unions! were invited by government 
to co-operate in concert with it in the Emigration movement, 
by providing the poor who would consent to emigrate with the 
modest wardrobe required by the emigration agencies, and with 
the means of reaching the English ports in order to embark 
upon the ships which were to give them a free passage. 
Government were especially desirous that young female 
orphans should be sent out there, in order to remedy as far as 

*21st Gen Rep. p. 13 ; and Appendices, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12. 

+ The administrative divisions under the Poor Law, so called. At present 
Ireland is divided into 163 Unions.— We shall return to this mechanism in 
Book VI. where we shall treat of the organisation of Legal Relief for the Poor. 


possible the lamentable disproportion existing between emi- 
grants of the two sexes. From 1847 to 1859, inclusive, the 
Unions contributed about £100,000 to the expenses of Emi- 
gration, and thus provided a passage for 25,000 individuals* 

But neither the government grants nor the help given by 
the unions bear any comparison with the resources which Emi- 
gration has created for itself by the industry and toil of those 
already gone. The amount annually sent to Ireland by the 
American and Australian Emigrants is absolutely enormous : 
it affords us a high idea of the generosity of the people, and 
of family affection amongst them. What a misfortune, how- 
ever, that the immediate consequence of the prosperity of 
emigrants should be but to contribute more largely to the 
depopulation of Ireland, and to deprive her of her sturdiest 
labourers ! 

In the single year 1860, from America alone, the emigrants 
sent over to their families and their friends the sum of 
£576,932; and adding the remittances sent from Australia, 
we may estimate the gross total at £l,000,000.f 



The countries for which the emigrants make are the English 
colonies in America, A frica and Oceanica, and more especially 
the United States. Since 1839, a change has taken place in 
the direction taken by emigrants, which is worthy of mention. 
For a long time Australia received but a small number of 
colonists. The presence of the convicts at Sidney and Botany- 
Bay was not calculated to gather round those centres of crime 
and corruption families which sought only in emigration a 
means of gaining an honest livelihood. It was only when 
the work of English colonization spread over that immense 

* These calculations we have made by the help of the Blue Books concern- 
ing the Poor Law administration in Ireland. We should observe that in the 
two last reports, (1860 and 1861), no mention is made of help allotted to 

t Thanks to reports from American bankers, the Emigration Commissioners 
are enabled to state the exact amount of these remittances, but from North 
America only. The total during the last thirteen years (1848-1860) amounts 
to £11,674,596. These figures are given, it is true, for the emigrants of the 
three kingdoms; but as the Irish are by far the majority, so also do they send 
the greater part of the money. (For details see Thorn's Off. Direct. 1862 ; p. 80). 


continent, and vast provinces were thrown open to the spirit 
of enterprise, that the tide of emigration ran in that direction. 
Still the Australian emigrants only make up a fifth of the 
total number for the year 1860; (24,302 out of 128,469). 

The other English colonies, (Cape of Good Hope, Natal, 
Guiana, Labuan, Ceylon, Hong-Kong, Kooria-Mooria,) re- 
ceived during the same year but 6,881 emigrants.* The mass 
of emigrants went to America ; a fact sufficiently explained 
by the shortness, the facility, and the economical conditions of 
the voyage. 

Only: — previously to the year 1839 more than half the emi- 
grants to America made for Canada.t During the ten follow- 
ing years the proportions suddenly changed. Of 1,340,496 
persons who set out for America between the years 1839 and 
1849, only 428,376 made for Canada: the other 912,120 found 
an asylum in the United States. We have moreover to 
observe that numbers of emigrants disembarked at Canada 
only to pass through and increase the number of those who 
had gone directly to the United States.^ 

This disproportion is owing to two causes. So long as Emi- 
gration was comparatively inconsiderable, Canada was able to 
offer to the emigrants work, and the means of subsistence. As 
soon as, from the year 1847, Emigration suddenly became 
double what it was in former years, the English colonies were 
overcrowded; work became consequently slack; a certain 
number were obliged to turn southwards ; and the emigrants 
of subsequent years were advised to make directly, for the 
States of the Republic. 

Besides this economical cause the English Commissioners 
were sagacious and honest enough to allude to another, of a 
completely different nature, which according to them worked 
chiefly among Irish emigrants.§ Canada to them is but a 
second England ; consequently there still exist there, although 
weakened by distance and modified by the influence of the 
French occupation, memories and traditions of oppression and 
conquest. In Quebec as in Derry, in Montreal as in Belfast, 
there are frantic orangemen to whom the Catholic is a wild 
idolater with whom it is impossible either to reason or to effect 

* 21st Gen. Report ; App. No. 6. 

+ Thorn's Off. Direct. 1852 ; p. 189 : " In the ten years ending with 1839, 
inclusive, of 613,258 persons who emigrated to North America, there went to 
the British colonies 320,766, to the United States 292,492." 

X In 1850 of 32,648 Emigrants landed at Canada, .13,723 pushed on imme- 
diately for the United States. (Thorn's Off. Direct. 1852 ; p. 189.) 

§ . . . . " Independently of any political feeling which may have directed 
the Irish rather to the United. States than to the British dominions. " — ( Twentieth 
Gen. Rep. of 'the Emigr. Commissioners, 1861 ; p. 24.) 

CHAP. V.] 


any compromise, and who ought never to have been invested 
with any political rights ; and if the Prince of Wales himself, 
the heir presumptive to the crown of England, was not spared 
the insulting demonstrations and brutal provocation of Canadian 
Orangeism,* we can easily understand why the Catholics of 
Ireland are not eager to seek in New-Brunswick and on the 
banks of the St. Laurence a life of but the same deadly affronts 
which are still hurled against them by the lodges of Ulster ; 
we can understand why not being able at home to rally around 
the green banner of Erin, they prefer to the leopard of Britain 
the star-spangled banner of the American Republic, f 



If the funds allotted by government make but an inconsider- 
able figure in the general budget of Emigration, on the other 
hand its care and its control extend over the whole of the 
operations necessary for the removal of all these numbers of 
people. The emigrant ships are nearly all under the direction 
of an official agency, even when not chartered by it ; and even 
the ships belonging to private enterprise are subject to certain 
laws as regards the transport of Emigrants. 

In 1857, for the transport of 220,695 persons^ 645 ships 
were employed, of which only 39 were independent of the 
Emigration agency; 79 were directly chartered by it; and 535 
chartered by owners, under the direction of the agency. § 

In 1858, for 118,606 Emigrants the number of vessels char- 
tered by the agency equals that of the free ships (48 and 48). 

* See the accounts and correspondence relative to the tour of the Prince of 
Wales, in the English, Irish, and American papers of the summer and autumn 
of 1860. 

t So, when, in the month of December 1861, the "Trent" affair threatened to 
arm EDgland against the United States, a great Meeting held at Dublin, with a 
Member of Parliament in the chair, openly expressed the liveliest sympathy 
for the cause of North America. Had war broken out it is impossible to doubt 
but that England would have been much embarrassed by the attitude of Ireland. 
Besides the fact of three-f ourtns of the English army being composed of Irish- 
men, it would have been a kind of fratricidal war for the latter country ; since 
there are about four millions of Irishmen settled in America, and a large 
number of them are serving under the federal flag. 

X This figure is slightly above that given in the general table quoted in the 
Appendix, because besides the Emigrants it comprises the crews, troops, and 
ordinary passengers. 

§ Eighteenth Gen. Rep. ; p. 105 ; App. No. 23. 

232 EMIGRATION. [ B00K IT . 

Four hundred were chartered by owners under the control of 
the Emigration Agents* 

In 1859, 440 vessels were employed in carrying J 20,949 
Emigrants. With the exception of eighteen, all were under 
the immediate control of the Emigration Commissioners.! 

In fine, in 1860 private enterprise in this matter was almost 
insignificant, and counted only five ships out of a total of 392 ; 
23 were chartered by the agency; the other 354 were under 
its control. 

Humanity has reason to be glad that government control in 
Emigration matters has yearly become more immediate and 
more serious. As long as Emigration was simply in the hands 
of private speculators, the unfortunate emigrants, handed over 
to the selfish cupidity of owners, were huddled together " be- 
tween decks," without any regard for health. It was a kind 
of white slave-trade ; with this difference, that the slaver was 
interested in losing as few as possible of his living cargo, whilst 
in the transport of emigrants death only lightened the vessel 
and was no loss to the ship-owner. At this epoch, consequently, 
the number of those who perished during the voyage or imme- 
diately upon their arrival, from diseases contracted during the 
run, was a wide and bloody wound inflicted upon the heart of 
families already so severely tried by separation.!: 

In 1849 an Act of Parliament, entitled the " Passengers Act" 
laid down the conditions to be complied with by vessels em- 
ployed in the transport of Emigrants. 

This law, renewed and amended in 1855, submits outward- 
bound vessels to a previous inspection ;§ as well as the provisions 
and medicines with which they must be provided ;|| the quantity 
and quality of fresh water on board fl[ and the accommodation 
of the cabins and the " 'tween decks."** The emigrants them- 
selves have to undergo an examination as to the state of their 
health and the condition of their wardrobe.ft Lastly, the same 
law prescribes the space allotted to each passenger, whether on 
deck^t or between decks ; which necessarily proportions the 
number of passengers to the size of the vessel, and prevents that 

* Nineteenth Gen. Rep. ; p. Ill ; App. No. 26. 

t Ships chartered by the Emigration Commissioners . . .52 
Ships dispatched from ports under the superintendence of Govern- 
ment Emigration Officers • 370 

Ships dispatched from ports not under the superintendence of 

Government Emigration Commissioners 18 

—(Twentieth. Gen. Rep. ; p. 121 ; App. No. 32.) 
% An American Economist, (H. Carey of Philadelphia,) gives us harrowing 
details upon this point; (The Pant, the Present, and the Future; p. 391.) 
§ Pass. Act Amend.: Clause 19. || CI. 31, 43, 44. f CI. 31, 33, 34. **CL 21. 
T+ CI. 11 ;— and 18th Gen. Rep. of Emig. Com., p. 113. 
tt Cl. 14, 20, 22-26. 

CHAP. V.] 


criminal overcrowding of vessels formerly attended with such 
fatal consequences to the emigrant. A penalty ranging from 
a fine to transportation enforces the provisions of this law; 
and in their yearly Report, the Emigration Commissioners 
state the number of cases in which the Passengers Act has 
been violated, the nature of the offence, and the penalty 

Of course this law, the provisions of which are so well- 
deserving of praise, is not able to prevent or repress all abuses. 
The Commissioners themselves state each year the impossibility 
of reaching or dealing with all culprits in this matter. 

Sometimes a ship before the inspection made by the Emigra- 
tion Agents will provide itself with everything required by law 
for a long voyage; but a portion of the objects destined to 
meet the wants of the emigrant are only borrowed for the 
inspection. The agents gone, they are put on shore ; and the 
emigrants will during the whole of the voyage have to undergo 
privations even to an extent prejudicial to their health.j 

At other times it is an infringement of the law with regard to 
the number of passengers on board, (a number fixed by the law 
according to the size of the vessel .)£ Sometimes the food is not 
regularly served out, or the water-service badly attended to ;§ 
at others the captains of emigrant ships have sold the passengers 
forged tickets for the American railways or steamers, which 
were perfectly useless to the unfortunate emigrants on 
landing. || 

These are however abuses which the best and wisest of laws 
are powerless to prevent. Parliament deserves praise for 
having reduced them to the state of exceptions, which hide 
themselves, and which are punished. The undoubted effect of 
the " Passengers Act" has been to better progressively the sani- 
tary conditions in which voyages are made by emigrants, and 
by an immediate consequence to diminish in a notable degree 
the amount of mortality. 

* ' ' Prosecutions instituted for violations of Passengers Act." (In the Appen- 
dix to the French edition the most important clauses of this Act are given, 
translated, at full length.) 

t " It is said that in the case of American ships sailing from Liverpool, it is 
a common practice to hire a crew to pass the Emigration Officer, and to reland 
a portion as soon as the inspection is over." — (18th Gen. Rep., p. 24.) A "com- 
mon practice /" — it is sad indeed to see the flag of the American Republic 
employed to abet abuses so dishonouring to humanity. 

% In 1857 the Anne Wilson, upon her arrival at New Zealand, was found to 
have fifty-seven passengers too many. The Captain was sentenced to a fine of 

§ Same case. (The sum total of the fine incurred by the Anne Wilson was 
£1,860.— 18th Gen. Rep., p. 28.) 

|| 19th Gen. Rep. p. 18. 

234 EMIGRATION. [ B00K IV . 

Of the emigrants to North America the per centage of 
deaths was as follows: — 






























The proportionate number of deaths is greatest among the 
Australian emigrants. Official statistics estimate it at 0*50 per 
cent. ; which is explained by the length of the voyage and the 
larger number of children who are taken out.* 

The sanitary conditions of these voyages have been mate- 
rially improved. Originating in the enlightened and firm 
action of the government, this progress is owing in great mea- 
sure to the zeal with which the medical gentlemen entrusted 
with the health and well-being of the emigrants during the 
voyage look to the performance of these provisions.! 

We have reason to believe that in point of morality there 
has been an analogous and still more consoling progress in these 
long voyages. In the last reports of the Emigration Commis- 
sion it is only the German vessels, leaving Bremen and Ham- 
burg, which are pointed out as criminally negligent of those 
rules and that watchfulness without which the most lamentable 
disorders arise. $ 

Can it therefore be said that Irish families, whose youngest 
and most inexperienced members usually exile themselves, 
enjoy that full security and those moral guarantees which 
Christian consciences demand above all things ? In those tears 
shed at the leave-taking, is the heart of the mother burthened 
with nothing more than the grief natural at parting? It is 
indeed hard enough to see her darling boy or her beloved 
daughter leave her for a long long time, perhaps for ever, — 
courageous exiles, who are going to America in order to be 
able to help their aged parents ; — but is there not mingled with 
that grief and that agony a vague terror, and a presentiment of 
perils more formidable than the tempest or the hazards of an 
unknown future? 

The fact is, that poor as they are these emigrants carry out 

* 24th Gen. Rep., p. 13; and Appendix, No. 32, (p. 100.) 

+ As to the organization of the medical service, — see Passengers Act, clauses 


{ " . . . . That in ships sailing from German ports there is no separation of 

sexes, and that gross immorality in consequence prevails."— (19th Gen. Rep. ; 

p. 21.) 

CHAP. V.] 


with them the double and inestimable treasure of a faith tem- 
pered by persecution, and a virtue hitherto sheltered in safety 
under the paternal roof; but they bear these treasures about, 
as the Apostle says, in vessels of clay,* and through what 
changes of fortune, — Great God ! — through what dangers will 
they not have to be borne to the extremities of the world? 
What strength of soul, what perseverance, what truly super- 
human courage will not be necessary to save them amidst so 
many perils, to preserve them from so many enemies, to keep 
them intact, and to prevent them from ruin from the multi- 
plied shocks of a life of travel and adventure ? 

In addition to these sombre thoughts inspired by the dangers 
which threaten immortal souls, these Christian parents who 
have handed down to their children the sacred deposit of the 
faith, and the heroic virtues of which it is the groundwork, 
feel all the weight of a sadness in which flesh and blood have a 
smaller part than the eternal interests of God and conscience. 
They weep over those who are leaving them, not only because, 
according to the touching expression of the prophetf " they 
will not return, and will see no more the land of their birth/' 
but because they fear for the life that is to come a separation 
far otherwise terrible than the separations of this earth. 

Here considerations of a totally different nature from the 
preceding present themselves to us. Hitherto we have en- 
deavoured to gather from official documents and statistics an 
exact idea of the Emigration movement. The figures we have 
consulted have told us what they could ; but they necessarily 
stop at the surface of the question, and throw light on but the 
smallest portion of it. The moralist, especially the Christian 
moralist, sees a vaster horizon before him; new and graver 
problems form the theme of his meditations. 

What are the consequences of this Emigration ? What be- 
comes of those millions of men who expatriate themselves? 
What part is alloted in the designs of God to those pilgrims 
whom steam so quickly carries to the ends of the earth, and 
who set out, axe in hand, to reclaim the savannahs of America 
and the wilds of Australia? What will be the result of this 
extraordinary egress of her race and her creed to Ireland who 
is suffering it, to England who encourages it, and to the nations 
who open their doors to these armies of fugitives ? 

Upon all this parliamentary Blue-Books are silent. In order 
to solve these questions we must have recourse to other autho- 

* "Habemus thesaurum istum in vasis fictilibus." — (2 Cor. iv. 7.) 
t " Plangite eum qui egreditur, qui non revertetur ultra, nee videbit terrain 
nativitatis suse." — (Jerem. xxii. 10.) 




In how many an Irish cabin as each week brings round the 
day of departure do not scenes of quite a patriarchal charac- 
ter take place, scenes whose affecting details would seem to be 
borrowed from Holy Writ itself ! Whilst brothers and sisters 
are busied about the little wardrobe of the emigrant — and are 
packing up with his threadbare clothing in the modest stout 
little wooden trunk a tuft of the village sward rich in sham- 
rocks, in order that the poor colonist may have a souvenir of 
the " Emerald Isle" near his hut in America,* — the father and 
mother are giving to the child about to leave them counsels 
inspired by their faith their experience and their affection. 
One would imagine he was listening to the aged Tobiasf bless- 
ing his well-loved son, and giving him his last instructions 
before handing him over to the care of his angel guide. 

" My dear child, all the days of thy life have God in thy 
mind ; and take heed thou never consent to sin, nor transgress 
the commandments of the Lord our God. 

" According to thy ability be merciful. 

" If thou have much, give abundantly; if thou have little, 
take care even so to bestow willingly a little. 

" For thus thou storest up to thyself a good reward for the 
day of necessity. 

" For alms deliver from all sin, and from death, and will 
not suffer the soul to go into darkness. 

" Take heed to keep thyself, my son, from all fornication. 

" Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind, or in thy words ; 
for from it all perdition took its beginning. 

"If any man hath done any work for thee, immediately 
pay him his hire, and let not the wages of thy hired servant 
stay with thee at all. 

" See thou never do to another what thou wouldst hate to 
have done to thee by another. 

" Seek counsel always of a wise man. 

* Mgr. the Bishop of Orleans. — La Souverainete Pontificate, c. xx. ; ftoden- 
berg (German author).— The Island of Saints; p. 322, (London 1861.) 
t Tobias, ch. iv. v. 


" Bless God at all times ; desire of him to direct thy ways, 
and that all thy counsels may abide in him. 

"Fear not, my son; we lead indeed a poor life; but we 
shall have many good things if we fear God, and depart from 
all sin, and do that which is good. 

" May you have a good journey, and God be with you in 
your way, and his angel accompany you ! " 

If the family is not at too great a distance from the port, it 
accompanies to it those about to leave, in order to watch over 
these well-loved beings till the last moment and to put off as 
long as possible the dreaded farewell.* 

The reader will pardon us for relating here a few facts 
which came under our own personal observation. It is not 
easy to forget such touching scenes, in which is to be found 
so admirable a compound of simplicity and grandeur. 

We happened to be at Cork during the month of August 
1860, on the very day when the large steamer City of Wash- 
ington, which had left Liverpool the previous evening, was 
expected, and which was to call at Queenstown (Cove), on its 

* On the 18th of January, 1862, a very touching farewell scene took place 
at Dublin. One hundred and forty-six victims of the Derryveagh evictions, of 
which we have already spoken {ante, page 195, etseq.) were going to embark for 
Plymouth, on their way to Sidney in Australia. A young priest of the diocese 
of Raphoe whose zeal and devotedness are indefatigable, (the Rev. James 
MacFadden, curate of the parish of Falcarragh,) accompanied them as far as 
Dublin. The emigrants were received on their arrival by several generous 
citizens who had made every preparation for the last meal the exiles were to 
take in their native land. At the end of dinner the Rev. James MacFadden, 
with a voice choked by emotion and in the midst of a deep silence, made an 
exhortation to the emigrants in their dear Celtic language. He reminded 
them that in a few hours they were to leave Ireland for ever ; he recalled to 
their memory the peaceful days they had passed among the rugged mountains 
of Donegal, in the fulfilment of their daily duties, far from the dangers and 
snares of the world, but in the engagement of those consolations which the 
Catholic faith abundantly imparts, the Mass which they attended so regularly 
on the Sunday, and the sacraments which they frequented. He then excited, 
their gratitude to those who had bid them so hearty a welcome. " And now 
my dear brethern," he said in concluding, "we are about to part. Before 
leaving Ireland, promise me that above all that you will be faithful to 
God, and that in whatever circumstances you may be placed you will faith- 
fully fulfil your religious duties," (sobs and repeated cries of we promise! 
we promise!). "Say your morning and evening prayers regularly, and 
never forget to go to Holy Communion, at least at Christmas and Easter." 
(Immense emotion and cries of never! never! God knows it!). "Young 
people, never forget the old folks you are leaving behind you ; they will count 
the days, you know it well, until they get news from you. They will pray to 
God for you, and we will all pray with you." 

A few minutes later, the bell of the steamer Lady Eglinton was heard ; at 
half -past ten at night the emigrants were upon the open sea. 

The week following a similar scene took place at Cork. A body of four 
hundred emigrants under the direction of a priest, on their way to the diocese 
of Brisbane, (Queensland, Australia), left on the evening of the 27th, in the 
steamer Erin go brayk. 


[book IV. 

way to New York, to complete its number of emigrants. 
During the preceding day the latter had been seen coming, in 
little bands, with carts carrying their wooden trunks. *The 
greater part of them were young men and women in all the 
vigour of youth.* A few old men, but in very small numbers, 
formed part of the procession. They informed me that they 
were on their way to join their children already settled in 
America; the latter having sent them the money necessary 
for the voyage. 

On the morning of Thursday, 30th of August, we had just 
celebrated Mass at the convent church of the Dominicans, 
situated upon one of the quays. We had remarked a consi- 
derable press of the faithful around the confessionals, and at 
the Holy Table. The prior of the convent whom we questioned 
upon this point told us that every Thursday morning, (the 
Liverpool and New York steamers run weekly), the same case 
occurred. " They are," he said, " emigrants who are going to 
embark during the day, and who before doing so desire to 
receive together with the forgiveness of their faults the 
heavenly nourishment, the true bread of the pilgrim. There 
are very few who do not consider this preparation of their soul 
indispensable, and who do not seal by this confession and com- 
munion the promise made by them to their parents and to 
God to remain staunch to their church and their creed." 

The departure was to take place at Cove (Queenstown) 
during the afternoon. We hastened down the river on board 
one of the omnibus-steamers which run continually from the 
town to the port. Stragglers were from time to time seen 
upon the quays, easily recognisable by their rustic attire, and 
the effects which they were taking with them. They were 
hurrying to the office of the Emigration agency in order to 
undergo the examination without having passed which no emi- 
grant is allowed to embark. When we arrived at Queenstown this 
examination was over : the trunks, which had been opened and 
inspected in order to verify the presence of the required amount 
of apparel, had been closed again, and were awaiting the City 
of Washington's signal. We walked through these groups 
of emigrants in the company of a worthy priest of Cork, to 
whose kindness and charity we are already indebted for much 
valuable information.! We asked some what induced them to 
go to America; others what resources they expected to find on 
their arrival ; others again whether they were going to join 
their relations and friends, or whether they were going without 

* " The bone and sinew of the country." (Dublin papers, April 1860.) 
+ The Rev. Augustine Maguire, brother of the member of Parliament, and 
P. P. of the parish of SS. Peter and Paul, Cork. 


aid and without resources to try their fortune in an absolutely- 
uncertain future? All replied, with that deferential and 
cordial politeness which a priest is always sure to meet among 
Irishmen : and on the greater part of those faces was stamped 
that quiet and resigned sadness which proclaims the struggle 
of nature and the consoling influence of faith. 

More than one, doubtless, was deceived upon the chances of 
work and fortune which induced him to expatriate himself. 
The mate of an English vessel, which runs between Europe and 
New York and Boston, told us how often he had witnessed the 
sad spectacle presented by the streets of those great cities on 
the day of the arrival of the emigrant ships. In fact many of 
them have started without exactly knowing how or where they 
were to get work. They wander about the streets and along 
the quays of the American ports spending in a few days the 
little horde they have brought from Europe, and already half 
overcome by downheartednesa and ennui are exposed to the 
most perfidious snares.* 

After we had thus examined the interior of the emigration 
agency's docks, we chatted for a short time with an old sailor 
employed upon the premises, and obliged weekly to witness 
these sad departures. In a short time we got near a group 
exclusively composed of emigrants in the prime of life, among 
whom two or three young women, who seemed to be sisters, 
were leaning on each other's arms, awaiting in silence the signal 
for departure. Our old companion then said with an accent 
of intense grief which made a profound impression upon us: 
" What a pity to see an entire people flying from its home ! 
See, there is the flower of our youth ! ah ! all this evil will 
not come to an end until we get the French over to deliver 
us !"t 

At last the sound of the cannon reached us : the Liverpool 
steamer had entered the port of Queenstown. In case any emi- 
grants were still in the town, lingering perhaps in the Catholic 
chapel, and recommending themselves to the " Star of the Sea," 

* The same is the case at Melbourne. — The following is an extract from a 
Report of the Saint Patrick Society, established in Australia for the last seven- 
teen years : " Most of the Irish emigrants, not knowing any avenue for their 
labours, linger in Melbourne till their scanty means are exhausted, and then 
they have no alternative but a career of sorrow and of shame ; strong healthy 
young men, strolling listlessly through the streets, —fair and innocent young 
girls, sitting in the labour mart during the long, long day." 

t We confine ourselves simply to repeat the expression, without in any way 
pretending that the old sailor was right in his idea that a French invasion was 
the only remedy for the evils of his country. It is however beyond a doubt 
that this is the popular feeling and the popular hope. We heard the same hope 
very frequently expressed both by peasantry and towns people. Even writers 
most favourable to the English government unanimously attest the existence 
of this universal disaffection. 


the gun warns them that it is time to make for the port without 
delay. The Liverpool steamer simply makes a call. at Queens- 
town : the emigrants once on board the steam is put on, the 
steersman stands to his helm, the captain has given the signal 
from the gangway: the emigrants crowd the deck; on their 
lips there is a silent prayer, their hearts overflowing with emo- 
tion look through tearful eyes a last look upon their beloved 
Erin I* Soon nothing is seen on the horizon but the thin 
streak of steam from the ship, which the evening breeze soon 
disperses ; night falls, and each one goes his way, his eyes full 
of tears, and his soul moved to its very depths. 

Every week the same scenes occur; not only in the port of 
Cork, but at Galway, at Limerick, at Londonderry, — without 
mentioning English ports such as Liverpool and Plymouth, at 
which the Australian emigrants usually embark. In vain does 
one endeavour to persuade oneself of the truth of that thesis 
maintained by a certain school, tf that Emigration is a neces- 
sary remedy ; that it will relieve the country of a fatal surplus ; 
and that with less labourers work will be more abundant and 
pay better ;" one finds it impossible to believe that Ireland like 
a plethoric patient requires only to be largely bled in order to 
recover her health and strength ! In spite of oneself, and at 
the risk of being accused of mere absurd sentimentalism, one 
rises up against the terrible conclusions of that political 

* We find in one of Mr. Cobden's speeches an admirably eloquent page upon 
the departure of the emigrants. It will add the authority of a great name to 
the feelings we have endeavoured to express. "This question," saidhe, (inDrury- 
lane Theatre, 3Gth March, 1843,) "has moral aspects which it is your duty to 
examine. It has beeri said that of all created beings Man is the hardest to 
sever from the place of his birth. It is a heavier task to tear him from his 
country than to tear up an oak from its root ; (cheers. ) Oh ! did the peti- 
tioners ever visit St. Catherine's Dock when one of the emigrant ships is about to 
leave on its dismal voyage ? (hear) . Did they see the poor emigrants sitting down 
for the last time on the quay, as if to cling even to the very last moment to that 
soil where they first saw the light ? (hear). Have you examined their counte- 
nances ? Oh ! you would not need to ask their feelings, for their hearts spoke 
out in their faces ! Have you seen them taking leave of their friends ? For 
me, I have often witnessed these distracting scenes. I have seen aged women 
saying to their children an eternal farewell ! I have seen the mother and the 
grandmother disputing the last embrace of the son ! (acclamations). I have 
seen these emigrant ships leaving the Mersey for the United States, — the eyes 
of all the exiles turned from the poop towards that beloved shore lost to them 
for ever ; and the last object in sight to them, as their native land sank for ever 
in the darkness, was that line of huge granaries and vast stores, (vehement 
cheering,) where under the protection, I was going to say of our QueeD, but 
no, under the protection of the aristocracy, were hoarded up mountains of 
nourishing food imported from America, the very thing that these sad exiles 
went to seek across the ocean ! (enthusiastic applause). I am not accustomed 
to sentimentalize ; I am known as a plain man, as a man merely of action and 
of fact, a stranger to the impulses of mere imagination. I tell you only what 
I have seen. I have seen these sufferings ; yes, and I have shared them." — 
(Speech of Mr. Cobden, — from Frederic Bastiat ; Cobden et la Ligue, p. 43.) 



economy; one finds it devoid of heart and bowels; and in 
judging it as it deserves, one is glad to find participating in one's 
indignation an English Protestant economist, whose authority 
as a man of science is, to say the least, equal to that of the 
partisans of Emigration. 

The land of Ireland, (says Mr. John Stuart Mill), like the 
land of every other country, belongs to the people which in- 
habits it. The legislature should have looked with a different 
eye upon the forced expatriation of so many millions of men ; 
and when the inhabitants of a country leave it en masse, 
because government does not leave them room to live, that 
government is already judged and condemned.* 

In order however to appreciate all the moral, religious, and 
political consequences of the Emigration movement, we must 
follow the emigrants boyond the seas, to those new continents 
to which they go to settle down. 

What becomes of those thousands on thousands of Irishmen 
who yearly go far away from their country in search of what 
she seems obstinately to refuse them, — the hope of a better 
future courageously won by labour and economy? 

Here, we confess, we come in contact with a sort of insoluble 
problem, and the designs of Providence in the trials of the 
Irish people appear to us profoundly mysterious. Not that 
there can be found any contradiction in the designs of God; 
in which all is essentially in exact harmony, and disposed with 
due number weight and measure. The contradiction is only 
an apparent one, and only proclaims the weakness of man's 
vision ; it is like one of those optical illusions which only deceive 
inexperienced eyes, and which the powerful instruments of 
science readily dissipate. The difficulty arises from the fact 
that in the unfathomable designs of God upon the destiny of 
nations there are truths which of necessity escape us, and there 
appears to us a break in the chain of principles called in to 
support one another. 

This apparent contradiction appears to us to be the following: 

Considered individually, the moral and religious results of 
Emigration are frequently deplorable ; not a„ year passes in 
which Catholic pastors have not to sigh over the perversion of 
souls, which left their country full of faith and virtue, and 
which speedily suffered shipwreck in both from the perils of 
the journey. 

If, on the contrary, we consider the Emigration movement 
as a whole; if our view embrace not merely its individual but 
its general consequences ; we find ourselves in presence of an 

* Principles of Political Economy. 



admirable spectacle, and we cannot refrain from extolling that 
Divine Wisdom which makes everything concur in the execu- 
tion of its plans, and which in order to hasten on the progress 
of the Gospel disperses to every wind of heaven the numerous 
tribes of a missionary people ! 

Let us compare these results, so different, and apparently so 
opposite one to the other. 




We have already spoken of the religious precautions by which, 
before starting, the majority of emigrants prepare themselves 
to meet the dangers which await them. The various perils 
of a long voyage, the loss of family advice, contact with 
strangers, frequently the scandals of bad example, — dangers of 
every kind. 

During the voyage, even, the emigrant must have both 
courage and strength of soul in order to lose nothing of the 
treasures which he has brought with him from his parish, and 
from the domestic hearth. In those immense ships which 
sail from Europe for America or Australia, everything has 
been provided for except the soul : or if with Christian fore- 
sight government provides with a chaplain the ships directly 
chartered by it, and under the immediate control of the Emi- 
gration Commissioners, it doubtless forgets that more than nine- 
tenths of those emigrants are Catholics ;* that the presence of a 
Protestant chaplain among them, far from being a consolation 
and a safeguard, may easily become a source of peril and 
oppression; and that, (especially during the voyages of four 
or five months necessary to reach the Australian ports,) it is a 
cruel and a grievous privation to Catholic emigrants never to 
hear the voice of their priest, to stir them up, to fortify, to 
encourage, and to calm their souls. 

Trials more dangerous still await, upon their departure from 
Ireland, those young women whom the hope of helping their 
aged parents, by means of large wages to be got in Australia, 
induces to accept a free passage on board the government 

* It is not unusal to find a ship carrying out a body of emigrants exclusively 
Catholic and Irish. This applies especially to the Australian ships.^ The 
American ones having a shorter voyage to make are thereby less subject to 
the disadvantages here pointed out. 


They have first to pass a day or two at the Emigration 
depdts at Birkenhead ; and there they have to do with none but 
Protestant agents and officers. After their embarcation, more 
than one is obliged to take as her companion night and day* 
some English or Scotch young woman. During the four or 
five months' voyage, these poor Irish girls hear around them 
scarcely anything but sarcasms against the Catholic religion on 
the part of their Protestant companions, or the gross and 
obscene talk of the crew. Jt may be that strong souls are 
not led astray by these influences, nor overcome by these 
attacks; they but conceive a greater devotion and stronger 
attachment to their faith: but are not the weak greatly 
exposed? At the end of the long voyage with what ideas, 
with what sentiments, in what a state of mind and heart, will 
they disembark at Sidney or Melbourne? 

A priest who passed many years on the Australian mission, 
and who knew the whole extent of the evil arising from this 
organization during the voyage, actually obtained permission 
from the Emigration Commissioners to have a Catholic chap- 
lain and a matronf of the same religion on board ships 
where Catholics should be in a majority. The English Com- 
missioners consented to the project with the most praiseworthy 
kindness. The only thing that remained to be done was to 
get these equitable dispositions sanctioned by the Australian 
government of Victoria.! The government however feared 
for its popularity if it should adopt a measure which would 
seem to favour too openly the Catholic party,§ and its refusal 
ruined a project which the agents of the English government 
had at least the merit of having encouraged. 

It is chiefly after their arrival that Catholic emigrants are 
exposed to the greatest dangers. On board the vessel, they 
associate with one another ; the strong encourage the weak ; all 
mutually help each other to resist baneful influences, and to 
combat evil. The necessities of labour and colonization quickly 
separate them upon their arrival : some get work in the large 
towns ; others in the manufactories, and upon the railways. A 
still larger number make for the newly opened-up territories, 
where there are wilds to reclaim, towns to build, parishes to 

* Two persons being put in each, cabin. 

t The woman charged with the superintendence and care of the female emi- 
grants on board ship. 

$ The "Government of Victoria,"— formerly that of "Port Philip,"— 
whose capital is Melbourne. 

§ "The then Prime Minister replied that he feared the 'no Popery' cry 
would be raised against him and his ministry, if they s sanctioned such an arrange- 
ment." (Letter published in the Dublin News of Jan. 27th I860, entitfed 
' Prospects of Irish Emigrants in Australia.'') 



found. But Protestant emigrants have been beforehand with 
them; and Catholic priests are scarcely able to follow them 
there, because their numbers are too small and their zeal is 
baffled by the greatness of the distances. It thus happens that 
the emigrant finds himself isolated; and, despite his good will, 
unable to follow up the practices of his religion. Hence arises 
a speedy falling off, and a fatal indifference replaces that live- 
liness of faith which the example of his family, the exhortations 
of his pastor, and above all the frequentation of the sacraments 
fostered in Ireland ; hence again the deplorable frequency of 
mixed marriages, and the forgetf ulness of those essential rules 
by which the Church endeavours to palliate the effects of an 
abuse not authorized but only tolerated by her; hence, in fine, 
by a general concurrence of all these causes, the perversion of 
children who from their infancy breathe a Protestant air, hear 
no explanation of the Gospel but what is to be got at a Method- 
ist or Presbyterian sermon, and thus finally adopt without 
scruple and perhaps in invincible good-faith the very errors 
which their fathers abhorred, and the struggle against which 
is recorded in their national history by three centuries of 
martyrdom and bloodshed. 

This dark and discouraging picture is no idle fancy ; it is 
unfortunately but too easy to find it drawn in the correspond- 
ence of our missionaries. Let us hear upon this grave question 
the bishops and priests of America : " At the beginning of this 
century," said in 1833 Dr. Dubois, Bishop of New York, " the 
newly-arrived emigrants were employed in the State of New 
York as day labourers, servants, journeymen, clerks, and shop- 
men. Now the condition of this class here is precisely the same 
as its condition in England ; it is entirely dependant upon the 
will of the trader : not because by law they are forced thereto, 
but because the rich alone being able to advance the capital 
necessary for factories, steam-engines, and workshops, the poor 
are obliged to work for them upon the masters' own conditions. 
These conditions, in the case of servants especially, sometimes 
degenerates into tyranny ; they are frequently forced to work 
on Sundays, permission to hear even a low Mass being refused 
them ; they are obliged betimes to assist at the prayers of the 
sect to which their masters belong, and they have no other 
alternative than either to do violence to their conscience or lose 
their place at the risk of not finding another. Add to this," 
continues the bishop, " the insults, the calumnies against 
Catholics which they are daily forced to hear, a kind of perse- 
cution at the hands of their masters, who do everything to turn 
them away from their religion : consider the dangers to which 
are exposed numbers of orphans who lose their fathers almost 


immediately upon landing: add to this the want of spiritual 
succour, a necessary consequence of the scarcity of missionaries ; 
and you will have a feeble idea of the obstacles of every kind 
which we have to surmount. There is another circumstance 
which diminishes our resources, whilst it exhausts those of 
charity. The greater part of the Catholic population being 
composed of emigrants, nearly all workmen employed in facto- 
ries or out at service, have not the resources of the Americans, 
surrounded by relations who can help them in case of need, 
give them hospitality, or take care of their children: it is an 
easy and inexpensive thing here; for on the farms there is 
nearly always work enough to keep the old men and children 
employed. Our emigrants, on the contrary, are nearly all 
isolated beings, without relations at hand ; or if they have any, 
they are workmen or servants like themselves. Supposing 
then an emigrant, the father of a family, to die, the widow and 
orphans have no other resource but public charity ; and if a 
home is found for the children, it is nearly always among 
Protestants, who do everything in their power to undermine 
their faith."* 

The year following, Dr. Purcell, then Bishop, and now 
Archbishop of Cincinnati, related in nearly the same terms 
equally distressing facts. " There are places, (said this prelate,) 
in which there are Catholics of twenty years of age, who have 
not yet had an opportunity of performing one single public 
act of -their religion. How many fall sick and die without the 
sacraments ! How many children are brought up in ignorance 
and vice ! How many persons marry out of the Church, and 
thus weaken the bonds that held them to it ! Deprived of all 
religious succour, scarcely ever seeing missionaries, a very 
large number of Catholic emigrants from Europe end by 
totally forgetting every practice of religion and by falling 
into a fatal indifference. Their children, brought up in igno- 
rance or drawn into the schools of sects, thence marry into 
Protestant families whose errors they adopt."f 

The same complaints were made by the Coadjutor Bishop 
of Philadelphia ;$ by Dr. England, Bishop of Charleston in 
1836 ;§ and at a very recent period, during the greatest deve- 
lopment of the emigration movement, by the Bishops of the 
Province of Cincinnati, for the first time assembled in Synod 
in 1855.|| 

In Canada the circumstances of the emigrants are the same ; 
the same fatal consequences resulting Irom their isolation. 

* Annals of the Prop, oftlte Faith, vol. viii. p. 204. 

t lb. viii. 339. J lb. x. 154-155. § lb. xxiii. 112. || lb. xxvii. 335. 

246 EMIGRATION. [ B00K IV . 

" Of all the dangers incurred by our Catholics, (said in 1856 a 
missionary of the diocese of Toronto,) one of the most common 
is the forced isolation into which they are thrown upon their 
arrival in Canada. They come mostly from Ireland; where 
their faith is so lively, and where they were surrounded by 
their relations and borne up by the force of example. The 
Church was at hand ; the priest was there every day to en- 
courage and direct them ; they were accustomed to see him at 
home, to consult him in all circumstances as a friend, as a 
father ; his presence tempered their misfortunes, and added to 
their joys ; his satisfaction made them happy ; and if by some 
fault they had grieved him, it was an evil which they deplored 
and which they hastened to repair. Here what a change ! 
Nearly a hundred thousand Catholics are scattered through the 
diocese over a surface nearly equal to the half of France ; in 
the midst of a Protestant population five times as numerous ; 
often lost in the woods ; seeing the priest but at long intervals ; 
and frequently having to travel four five or ten leagues to 
enjoy that consolation: the churches and the pastors are so 
scarce ! But if the present generation is, notwithstanding its 
habits of piety, so seriously exposed, what shall we say of the 
one that is growing up? This is the greatest of dangers 
for Catholicity in these parts ; the fathers are for the most part 
good, because they have been formed by pastors and by nume- 
rous and zealous masters in faithful Ireland; but who will 
instruct their children, who will give them that Christian edu- 
cation so necessary every where, but especially in a country so 
full of dangers ? It is thus that faith is weakened, and indif- 
ference as to the form of worship gains ground, that doubt 
penetrates into the sanctuary of the conscience, and that 
morals become relaxed : in proportion as God and the eternal 
destiny of man are forgotten, greater attachment to the earth 
and to the enjoyments of life is formed. If orthodoxy were 
not so deeply rooted in the hearts of these poor Irish Catholics, 
we should count apostasies by thousands. But the faith lies 
eternally in this generous people, which has suffered so much 
for it. May they guard it ! may we be the means of handing 
it down from father to son." * 

During the same year another Canadian missionary, who has 
since become one of the most violent enemies and one of the 
most obstinate calumniators of the Church of which he was 
then the humble and fervent apostle, called in his turn for the 
charity and the solicitude of the Society for the Propagation 

* Annals; yoI. xxviii. p. 309-319. (Letter from the Abbe" Soulerin, mis- 
sionary in the diocese of Toronto, (Canada), dated April 6th 1856.) 



of the Faith, in favour of the emigrants.* He expatiated on 
the " innumerable evils to which this voluntary exile gave rise 
in a religious point of view, and the laxness of many both on 
account of the distance between them and the churches and 
Catholic priests, as well as on account of their daily contact 
with impiety and heresy." 



Such are, according to the evidence of the most trustworthy 
witnesses : the fatal results too frequentty attendant upon Emi- 
gration : in many souls practical religion loses ground, faith is 
weakened, and supernatural virtue disappears ; the children of 
the saints allow themselves to be corrupted by the children of 
this world, and in their inability to arrest these weak and in- 
constant souls on the brink of the precipice their pastors shed 
bitter tears. What Christian heart%ut would share their pious 
grief and the lawful solicitude of their charity? And on the 
day when these poor emigrants, whose souls are still full of 
the teachings and holy traditions of the faith, bid adieu to 
their native land, to encounter all these perils, who would not 
pray fervently that not one among them might perish : that the 
Lord would always cover them with His shadow, protect them 
with His truth as with a buckler and a shield, and give His 
angels guard over them in all their ways, lest perhaps they 
dash their foot against a stone, and give them strength to tread 
upon the lion and the dragon, to triumph over violence and 
fraud. 1 

Still, we have said, God who is wonderful in His ways, and 

* Annals, Vol. xxix. p. 119-130. (Letter from Mr. Chiniquy, missionary in 
the State of Illinois, whose efforts had gathered around a little chapel, built 
in the prairies, about two thousand emigrant families. He has since embraced 
Protestantism, and has himself become that "roaring lion of heresy" of which 
he spoke in his letter. In 1860 he came over to Europe in order to enlist 
Protestant generosity in favour of the sxiccess of his new mission. We hap- 
pened to be in Londonderry at the end of September of the same year, at the 
time of Mr. Chiniquy's visit, and on the very day when this former apostle of 
Illinois had awakened the enthusiasm of a Presbyterian meeting by revealing 
the "monstrous abuses of confession." The speech made by him on this occasion 
was published in extenso in the Londonderry Standard of Sept. 27th, 1860.) 

t (Ps. 90.) — It is however important to remark, and this fact we have from 
persons who have passed many years in the United States, that the young 
Irishwomen who emigrate are always remarkable for that regularity of conduct 
and that purity of life which continue to be the undying honor of Ireland. 

248 EMIGRATION. [ bo0 k IV. 

whose impenetrable counsels escape the calculations of human 
wisdom, has visibly assigned to the Irish Emigration movement 
a place in His designs for the propagation of the Gospel, and 
the peaceful conquest of the world by the Catholic apostolate. 
These are marvellous trials of His mercy and power, which we 
must endeavour to group in a more consoling picture than the 

It is a truth grounded upon the revealed Word itself, and 
substantiated in the whole course of history, that the growth 
of human societies and the different phases of their existence 
correspond to a special vocation given to each people and form- 
ing part of the Divine plan. To take but a single example : 
the dispersion of the tribes of the Jewish people amongst all 
the nations of the earth was not intended merely as a chastise- 
ment ; it was also intended to awake among the gentiles the 
memories of a primitive revelation, and to bring the numberless 
souls who had gone astray back to the knowledge of the true 

The vocation of the Jewish people was an essentially religious 
one : whilst Greece and Rome were entrusted with the mission 
of civilizing the barbarian world, the one by letters, the other 
by laws, the posterity of Abraham were to hand down from 
generation to generation, and to preserve intact amidst all the 
corruption of the pagan world, the deposit of Divine truth. 

The same has been the case in all the course of Christian 
History : there are nations who bear visibly on their brow the 
mark of predestination, and whom God seems to have reserved 
for the accomplishment of his will upon the world. " The 
vocation of Christian races," said but lately a great voice, which 
has but just been hushed in death, to the grief of the universal 
Church,j- " is to propagate the truth, to enlighten nations 
farther away from God, to carry to them at the price of 
labour and at the risk of death the eternal blessings of faith, 
justice, and civilization.'' It is assuredly one of the most in- 
contestable glories of France to have been chosen as the 
providential instrument of so many divine works, of which 
in all history it will ever be said that they are " the doings of 
God through the Francs," — gesta Dei per Francos! 

Such a predestination, but one more deeply marked by the 
Christian token of suffering and sacrifice, has long signalled 
out the Irish nation to the respect and gratitude of the Catholic 

* "Confitemini Domino, filii Israel et in conspectu gentium laudate eum : 
quoniam ideo dlspersit vos inter gentes quce ignorant eum, ut vos eaarretis mirabilia ejus, 
et facialis scire eos quia non est alius Deus omnipotens prater eum." — (Tobias, xiii. 
3, 4.) 

t Father Lacordaire ; Discours sur la vocation de la nation Franqaise } vol. I, p. 435. 



She is and has been the Missionary Nation par excellence, 
from the very outset of her history. 

" The meditation of the Irish Monks," said another eloquent 
champion of the Catholic cause, " was disturbed by a passion 
for pilgrimages and preaching. These men, who had sought 
peace in solitude, did not find it there ; they felt themselves 
burning to emerge from it, to scatter the fire of sacred science 
which devoured them, to evangelize infidels and degenerate 
Christians. In their dreams, in their extasies, angels appeared 
to them, and called them to show them whole peoples seated 
in the shadow of death ; they saw the sea divided before 
them, or changed under their footsteps into a meadow ena- 
melled with flowers."* 

Accordingly they were to be seen braving the storm to 
evangelise the Hebrides, the Highlands of Scotland, Northum- 
berland, Neustria, Flanders, Austrasia, Helvetia, the Rhetii, 
the two Burgundies: then crossing the Rhine, the Pyrenees 
and the Alps, announcing the good tidings to Germany and 
Spain, and even so far as to the remotest corners of Magna 

With the persecutions consequent upon the Reformation, — 
that is from the fifteenth century, — this vocation of the Irish 
people become more manifest, It is really the nation itself 
which is invested with the sublimest of all apostleships, — that 
of preaching the truth by suffering, or if needs be by dying 
for it. " Our mission is to be nailed to the cross, and to suffer 
for the propagation of the Gospel," said O'Connell in 1839; 
and the whole supernatural meaning of the Emigration move- 
ment, and of its developement during the last thirty years, is 
summed up in this sublime saying. 

" It has pleased Divine Providence," said in 1850, Dr. Byrne, 
Bishop of Little- Rock, " to keep this faithful people under the 
press, in order that it might leave the land of its fathers, and 
that by its dispersion it might be a Christian seed among dis- 
tant nations."^: 

Like those Christians whom Saul with his ferocious zeal 
persecuted before his conversion, and who fled in all directions 
in order to escape him, the Irish wherever they go carry with 
them the word of God, and in countries until but lately 
infidel they sow broadcast that seed which is everywhere 
springing up into numerous and powerful Catholic societies. 

" They it is," was said ten years ago in the TJie Annals of 

* Ozanam, — Etudes Germaniques, vol. II., p. 102. „ 

t See Sermon of the Bishop of Orleans at St. Roch, 25th March 1860 ; p. 7, 
8 ; and M. de Montalembert, The Monks of the West, vol. II., p. 413. 
J Annals of the Propagation of the Faith ; vol. xxiii., p. 109. 


[eook IV. 

the Propagation of the Faith, " who have given to the United 
States the greater part of her Catholic population, and who 
yearly pour into her bosom the tribute of one hundred and 
fifty thousand souls."* 

Thus if on the one side we see so many individual evils 
which it is impossible should not result from emigration, on 
the other we may also see how this Exodus has extended in 
every direction over the whole world the frontiers of the 
Catholic Church! It would seem that it was to this race 
and to its present destiny that Isaiah was alluding when he 
comforted by the hope of a magnificent future her " who 
had so long been poor, so long beaten by the tempest and 
without consolation." 

" Give praise," he says, " O thou barren, that nearest not; 
sing forth praise, and make a joyful voice, thou that didst not 
travail with child ; 

" Enlarge the place of thy tent, and stretch out the skins of 
thy tabernacles ; spare not ; lengthen thy cords, and strengthen 
thy stakes. 

" For thou shalt pass on to the right hand and to the left : 
and thy seed shall inherit the Gentiles, and shall inhabit the 
desolate cities."! 

We can still follow, in the accounts of the councils of the 
bishops and missionaries of America, these admirable results 
of one of the most cruel trials to which a nation was ever 

As early as the eighteenth century, long before the founda- 
tion of the Republic of the United States, a certain number 
of Irishmen had already gone over to America in order to 
escape from the penal laws. They first settled down in Mary- 
land; a colony founded in the seventeenth century by Lord 
Baltimore and an emigration of Catholic colonists, but which 
Protestants had however speedily invaded and subjected nearly 
exclusively to their influence. The manner in which Irish 
Catholic refugees were received there was not calculated to 
encourage emigration. Consistent with itself in the two 
hemispheres, and warned perhaps by an instructive fore- 
boding of the consequences to Catholicity which were to result 
from Irish emigration, Protestant fanaticism had recourse to 
its ordinary weapons. Amongst many other tyrannical pro- 
visions the Maryland legislature had enacted one degrading 
the Irish confessors of the faith; it laid the same tax upon the 
importation of an Irish "servant," as it did upon that of a 

Annals, xxiii. 109. t I*aias; liv. ; 1-3. 

Annals ; x. 258. — (Letter of Dr. England, Bishop of Charleston.) 



There was however this difference between the negro and 
the Irish servant ; that the f eticism of the former was per- 
fectly unshackled, whilst the latter could not with impunity 
venerate the cross upon a soil where he was taxed and brow- 
beaten. " So that," says the Protestant historian MacMahon, 
"in a colony founded by Catholics, and which under the 
government of a Catholic had attained power and prosperity, 
the Catholic alone became the victim of religious intolerance."* 

It is to the honour of the American Republic that it did 
away with these odious laws, and gave to the Catholic church 
a free place in the midst of the different Protestant churches ; 
and amongst the glorious memories of Washington and the 
founders of American liberty there is one which we cannot 
forget, — it is that they desired to take counsel of the vener- 
able Dr. Carroll, destined shortly afterwards to fill the archi- 
episcopal chair of Baltimore, "in order to secure in the 
constitution the principle of religious independence," — and that 
they invited him to sign with them the act of federation.! 

At the beginning of this century there were only two 
bishoprics in the United States; that of Baltimore, erected 
in 1789, and that of New Orleans, erected in 1794. 

When Dr. Carroll held his first diocesan synod in 1791, all 
his priests assisted at it : they numbered but twenty-two. The 
census of the Catholics gave the following results : Maryland 
16,000; Pennsylvania 7,000; the rest of the United States 
1,500; in all 24,500, With the exception of one solitary con- 
vent, that of the Theresians, there was no religious or ecclesi- 
astical community, no college, no seminary, not even a Catholic 
school, in all the States. The few chapels of those days were 
either huts, or private houses rented for divine service. 

Starting from the nineteenth century the foundation of nu* 
merous bishoprics attests the progressive increase of the number 
of Catholics. In 1791 there were but two dioceses and less 
than 25,000 Catholics; forty years later, in 1830, the United 
States counted eleven dioceses and five hundred thousand 

In 1826, an Irishman whose name has remained in venera- 
tion in the United States, Dr. England, Bishop of Charleston, 
was the object of a distinction which proved all the influence 
won by Catholicity in the very country where half a century 
before the condition of the Catholic servant was worse than 
that of the negro. When Dr. England was at Washington, 
during the winter of 1825, many members of the Senate and 
Congress who held his person and eloquence in high esteem 

* Annals ; xxii. 335. f Id. lb.] 


called upon him and requested him to give a discourse in the 
Capitol. He consented; and by the success of his discourse, 
which was published, contributed to dispel in many minds 
prejudices against Catholicism. 

In 1834 a still more striking and significant mark of esteem 
was rendered to a religion but shortly before proscribed by 
penal laws. The Senate and the Congress have each a chap- 
lain appointed by election. The ordinary functions of the 
chaplains consist in opening each day's sitting by prayer; but 
they both enjoy the right of preaching on Sundays in the 
Chamber of Representatives, the more spacious of the two. 
They exercise this right alternately ; sometimes, by mutual 
agreement, and with the consent of the members of Congress, 
other ministers are invited to occupy the pulpit. In 1834 the 
Senate, by a large majority, elected for its chaplain, a young 
Catholic priest, Mr. Charles Constantine Pise, a native of the 
United States, belonging to the diocese of Baltimore.* 

Henceforth, European and especially Irish emigration was 
destined to multiply rapidly the number of pastors and faithful 
in this part of the new world. 

Hence, in their solemn assemblies, the bishops of this young 
and vigorous church pour forth to God the homage of their 
gratitude. Are not these poor exiles whom the tide of 
emigration has cast on the shores of America that mystical 
vine transplanted from Egypt by the Lord himself, which 
scarcely planted in the new land is already covering the hills 
with its shade, pushing forth its tendrils even to the shores of 
the sea, and ripening its fruit upon the river banks ?f 

" The Church suffers in civilized countries," said the Fathers 
of the sixth synod of Baltimore; " she is checked in them: the 
successors of the Apostles could not meet together in them 
without exciting the fears or provoking the menaces of the 
powers of this world. Here we are but of yesterday ; we have 
scarcely emerged from our infancy; and already we render 
in common and publicly our testimony to the faith, to the 
discipline of our holy religion " 

" Never," added they, " was there an epoch more important 
or more critical. It is that of our growth. Emigration from 
Europe is incessant and extensive. Our flocks are in general 
made up of those poor to whom the Gospel must be incessantly 
preached. "J 

* Annals ; Vol. vii. 150, 151. 

f "Vineam iEgypto transtulisfci, ejecisti gentes et plantasti earn. Dux 
tineris fuisti in conspectu ejus : plantasti radices ejus et implevit terram. 
Operuit montes umbra ejus. Extendit pal mites suos usque ad mare, et usque 
ad flumen propagines ejus " — (Ps. lxxix.) 

X Annals, Vol. xviii. (6th Synod of Baltimore, 1846.) 



It was, in fact, immediately after this synod that the great 
era of the Exodus opened, and that European emigration 
suddenly assumed unexpected proportions. It exceeded 
250,000 souls yearly; and the Fathers of the Seventh Synod of 
Baltimore while invoking the charity of the Christians of 
Europe in favour of the exiled tribes bore witness to the new 
progress of the American Church. At this synod two Arch- 
bishops and twenty three Bishops sat around the same altar, 
regretting the absence of two other prelates, the distance of 
whose dioceses had prevented them from taking part in this 
imposing assembly. 

" The future of the Church," said these successors of the 
apostles, " opens out before us with the hopes the consolations 
and the vigour of a church still young, which is growing like 
a new vine, and which will soon count amongst its labourers 
six Archbishops and thirty Bishops. Besides the secular clergy 
we have for co-operators nine religious bodies or pious societies, 
a precious portion of the Church militant which edifies the 
pastors no less than the faithful, and the branches of which are 
daily multiplying. Our religious communities present a no less 
consoling spectacle ; hospitals, orphan asylums, poor-schools, 
boarding-schools for the higher classes, numberless establish- 
ments are prospering under the direction of virgins consecrated 
to God. 

" What an interesting portion of the Lord's vineyard ! It 
stretches from the banks of the St. Lawrence to the Pacific, 
from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico ; it will follow the destinies 
of the nation among which it has struck root so deeply ; the 
innumerable islands situated between America and China will 
before long be calling our missionaries to their help."* 

Other synods, — the eighth of Baltimore, the first and second 
of New Orleans, and that of Saint Louis, — hold the same lan- 
guage, bear witness to the same progress, and express similar 

Let us sum up in a few figures this rapid and prodigious 
expansion. In 1791 there was but one bishop, twenty-two 
priests, and 24,500 faithful. In 1862, there are seven arch- 
bishoprics, forty-three bishoprics, 2,700 priests secular and 
regular, and more than four millions of Catholics.f In 1791 
there were but a few scattered chapels, most of them either 
huts or private houses: in 1862 there are more than 2,900 
churches or chapels, without taking into account any of the 

* Seventh Synod of Baltimore ; 18J.9 ; {Annals, xxi. 269-291.) 
f The exact number is, according to the Catholic Directory for 1862, 
4,800,000, (counting California and Michigan.) 



2,576 stations, or places temporarily used as places of worship 
when the missionaries are on their rounds. 

In 1791 there was but one single convent, — no college, 
seminary, or Catholic school; in 1862 there are 68 seminaries, 
1,109 ecclesiastical students, 265 convents, and nearly 250 
charitable institutions of different kinds. 

The civil war, which is at the present moment arming one- 
half of this great Republic against the other, may check for 
a moment this marvellous growth ; on the one hand by slack- 
ening the emigration movement, and on the other by causing 
the Catholics to feel th;j effect of those industrial and commer- 
cial disasters which the war must infallibly bring about. But 
whatever may happen the chief result has been obtained; 
from the grief of their exile, from the toil of their long and 
painful journeys, the emigrants — and particularly those from 
Ireland, — have contributed to the accomplishment of one of the 
great designs of God upon the future of the New World ; in 
less than three quarters of a century these numerous genera- 
tions, living stones mysteriously consecrated by sacrifice and 
persecution, have come to lay themselves one upon the other, 
and to build up under the hand of the Divine Architect that 
majestic edifice the Church of the United States, which Catho- 
licity justly reckons amongst its most precious treasures and 
its best founded hopes. Is it not evident that the finger of 
God is there ? and might not the emigrant people say to those 
who have driven them from their homes into a foreign land, 
what Joseph said to his brothers: "You thought evil against 
me ; but God turned it into good, that he might exalt me, as 
at present you see, and save many people."* 



The progress made by the Catholic Church in Canada and in 
Australia is neither less wonderful nor less consoling. 

In 1822 the English North American colonies possessed but 
the single bishopric of Quebec. At the present day there are 
two archbishoprics there, (Quebec for Canada, Halifax for 
Nova Scotia), and fourteen bishopries.! 

* Gen. ; 1. 20. 

t Battersby's CatJi. Direct. : 1862; 406 and £ol. — We possess detailed sta- 
tistics upon some of these dioceses. In that of Toronto there are : 70 churches 
and chapels j 40 stations ; 34 priests ; 4 colleges or convents ; 60 schools ; and 



Forty years ago Australia seemed doomed to serve as a per- 
manent receptacle for the malefactors of the British Empire ; 
on the whole of that immense continent not a chapel nor a 
priest was to be seen.* 

The first missionary who appeared in those countries was a 
certain Rev. Mr. Flinn, on whom the Holy See had conferred 
the title of arch-priest, with power to administer confirmation. 
Arrived at Sidney in 1818 the Rev. Mr. Flinn did much good 
there in a short time. But the authorities of the place, jealous 
of his success, accused him of having come without the autho- 
rization of the British government, which according to the 
laws was nowise necessary. Upon this pretext they impri- 
soned the missionary a few months after his arrival ; deprived 
him of all communication with his flock ; and put him in spite 
of himself on board the first ship that was bound for England. 

He had left the Blessed Sacrament in the church at Sidney. 
There the faithful frequently met during the two years fol- 
lowing his departure, in as large numbers as they could 
muster, to offer up to God their prayers and to look for con- 
solation in their affliction. 

At this epoch Catholics, especially the Irish, were treated in 
the colonies with extreme severity. Thus, it was forbidden to 
speak Irish under pain of fifty strokes of the whip ; and the 
magistrates, who for the most part belonged to the Protestant 
clergy, sentenced also to the whip and to close confinement 
those* who refused to go to their sermons, and to assist at a 
service which their consciences disavowed.! 

In 1820 two fresh missionaries replaced the Rev. Mr. Flinn. 
Already in 1833, out of a population of 100,000 souls, there 
were from twenty to thirty thousand Catholics. The first 
bishop sent out to those distant regions was Dr. Polding. He 
arrived towards the end of the year 1835, accompanied by 
three priests, and four students who were preparing for orders. 

44,000 Catholics. In that of Bytown, (Canada): 76 churches; 56 priests; 
25,000 Catholics. In that of Montreal : 110 churches ; 60 priests ; 12 religious 
communities; 56,000 Catholics. In that of St. Hyacinth, (Canada): 64 
churches ; 86 priests ; 6 religious communities; 210 schools ; 150,000 Catholics. 
In that of Halifax: 60 churches; 36 priests ; 1 college; 5 convents; 60,000 
Catholics. In that of St. John's, (New Brunswick) : 86 churches ; 40 stations ; 
40 priests ; 4 convents ; 1 college ; and 100,000 Catholics. 
* Nouveau coup d'ceil sur Voeuvre de la Propagation de lafoi ; (1856, p. 33.) 
+ Memoir on the Mission in Australia, by Rev. V', 1 ".' Ullathorne, of the Order 
of St. Benedict, and Vicar-General of the Mission. (Annals, X. 424.) Dr. 
Ullathorne is now Bishop of Birmingham. The author begs to offer him the 
expression of his sincere gratitude for the very kind reception he did him the 
honor to give him in the month ot July 1860, and for the valuable information 
which he was kind enough to communicate to him touching the Australian 


EMIGRATION. [book iv< 

Very soon the transported were not the only ones on whom 
the zealous missionaries had to bestow their care. The English 
government extended its counting houses and mercantile estab- 
lishments in all directions over these islands vast as continents ; 
the work of colonization went forward , the laws, or rather the 
intolerant usages, of which the Irish Catholics had in the 
beginning been the victims, had disappeared. The voyage to 
Australia was doubtless longer, dearer, and more dangerous 
than that to the United States ; in return Irish Catholics had 
the advantage, upon their arrival, of being able to form 
themselves into a more compact body, and of not being scat- 
tered, as in the United States, without mutual protection 
and without religious resources in the midst of an heretical 
or indifferent population. There also the measure of emigra- 
tion was the measure of the rapid progress of the Catholic 
Church. In 1846 Australia formed an ecclesiastical province, 
in which were included the Archbishopric of Sidney, and the 
Bishoprics of Adelaide and Hobart Town ; it boasted of a me- 
tropolitan Church, twenty-six Chapels, and thirty-one Schools ; 
and it possessed fifty-six missionaries, divided between the care 
of the civilized population, and that of preaching the Gospel 
to the savages of New Holland. Moreover on the request of 
Dr. Polding, a new bishopric, that of Perth, had just been 
erected; and the titulary of that see, Dr. Brady, came from 
Europe commissioned to establish other new Apostolic Vica- 

Jn 1848 the government of Australia having declined 
receiving convicts from the mother-country, free immigra- 
tion increased on a vaster scale; Irish Catholics flocked in; 
" it is their generous faith," said one of our fellow-countrymen 
in 1858, " which has created for our holy religion the honor- 
able position it occupies, especially in New South Wales.'"f 

The Spanish Benedictines, and at their head the Fathers 
Serra and Salvado, (now both of them bishops, the one of 
Perth, the other of Port- Victoria,) energetically seconded the 
zeal of the missionaries from Ireland and England. 

Thanks to these fortunate circumstances, Catholicism is 
every day gaining in numbers and influence. 

" As the Catholics are numerous," says the same missionary, 
"as they reckon among them influential men, as they are to be 
found in nearly every family, and are consequently better 
known, — the old hatred of England, her time-worn and ridi- 

* Annals, &c ; xviii. 525. 

+ Letter of M. Poupinel, of the Society of Mary, to His Eminence Card, de 
Bonald, Archbishop of Lyons ; Jan. 7, 1858 ; {Annals, xxx. 314.) 

CHAP. X.] 


culous prejudices against our brethren scarcely exist any 
longer in New South Wales. For the last twenty years 
Catholicity has been on a perfect equality with all the other 
religions recognized by the state; our priests and school- 
masters are paid by the state. Whenever Catholics set about 
building a church or a school, government always furnishes a 
sum equal to that raised among themselves by donation and 

Australian Catholics give so liberally, that good works spring 
up as though by magic throughout this land until but lately 
accursed. There also is being prepared the future of a church 
full of life and fruitfulness. Forty years ago, a few hundred 
Catholics were the most that were to be met with : to-day they 
may be estimated at over two hundred thousand. The first 
bishop arrived in Australia in 1835: to-day Sidney is an arch- 
bishopric around which are grouped five suffraganf bishoprics, 
without mentioning those of Auckland (New Zealand), and of 
Brisbane, (Queensland). Who can sound the ulterior designs 
of Providence upon the destinies of a church so young and 
already so flourishing ? 

Irish Emigration to England and Scotland offers contrasts 
no less striking than that to America and Australia. There 
also, though indeed at the price of individual evils which can- 
not be too much regretted, is being worked out a large 
amount of aggregate good the influence of which is daily 
becoming more alid more manifest. 



Sea communications between Ireland and England have so mul- 
tiplied within the last fifteen years, that no one is astonished 
at seeing Irish families daily disembark from the steamers on 
the quays of Liverpool, Bristol, Mil ford- Haven, and Lon- 
don. Some, and these are the greater number, evicted from 
their little holdings, and despairing to find even in the most 
commercial towns of Ulster, Belfast and Londonderry, profit- 
able employment, make for Manchester, Leeds, and Birmingham 

* Annals, &c, xxx., 315. 

t The Bishoprics of Adelaide, Hobart Town, Melbourne, Perth, and Vic- 
toria. (Thorn's Off Dir., 1862, p. 651-658. Cath. Dir., 1862, p. 415,423. In 
the latter may be found the statistics of each of these new dioceses.) 




and fill up the ranks of those manufacturing armies 
which are supported by the great iron and cotton trades. 
Others begin by working in the fields in those counties where 
field work is to be found ; and on the approach of the winter 
they flock into the suburbs of the populous cities, where, like 
the Jews of the Ghetto in Rome, and the Christians of Galata 
in Constantinople, the Irish usually inhabit separate districts, 
in which they mingle as little as possible with the English 

The official census for 1841 counted 419,256 born Irishmen 
settled in England and Scotland.f According to the most 
moderate estimates their number has more than doubled within 
twenty years ; and it may now without exaggeration be com- 
puted at nearly a million. We cannot give the precise figures, 
since the last decennial census (1861) makes no mention of 

The greater part of these emigrants to England and Scotland 
are Catholics. It is known that with few exceptions the Pro- 
testants of Ireland form the wealthiest portion of the population ; 
and with the exception of a few capitalists who embark their 
money in the great commercial concerns of England, the whole 
of the remaining population is composed of poor labourers 
depending upon their daily toil for their daily bread. 

It is assuredly a study deserving of the most serious atten- 
tion to trace through the different phases of their new existence 
those seven or eight hundred thousand Irishmen, who have, 
for the greater part, suddenly exchanged the labours and con- 
dition of agricultural life for the work of the towns. For all 
who are interested in religious questions, and in the moral con- 
dition of the labouring classes, still more so for hearts accessible 
to the holy solicitudes of Christian faith and charity, it is 
impossible not to ask themselves what is to become (scattered 
as they are among twenty millions of Protestants of every 
denomination, of every church, of every sect) of those children 
of faithful Ireland, the sons and grandsons of those who for 
the last three centuries have in spite of all violence, of all 
perfidy, defended the treasure of Catholic faith, and who still 
repeat to-day the Creed that England has forgotten, and which 
St. Patrick taught them. 

We shall speak chiefly of the Catholics settled in London, 
because we have ourselves studied very closely the material 
and moral condition in which they are placed. These ob- 
servations may however be easily generalized, and extended 

* Leon Fauclier ; Eludes sur V Angleterre ; vol. I., p. 23, 24. Henry May- 
hew ; London Labour and (he L,ondon Poor ; vol. I. pp. 104, &c. London, 1861. 
+ Bhie Book, Census of 1841. 


to all those manufacturing towns of England and Scotland 
which yearly receive a part of the Emigration contingent. 

The Irish town is situated in the east of London. The 
neighbourhood of Drury-lane contains, it is true,"a large number 
of Irish: but it is principally in the vicinity of Spitalfields and 
the Commercial Road that we must study the consequences of 
that periodical emigration which annually brings, from Dublin 
and Waterford so many thousands of families into the capital 
of Great Britain. 

The parish of St. Anne, Spitalfields,*' is in the hands of the 
French Marist fathers, who estimate at 12,000 the number of 
Irish congregated in the alleys and courts of which this quarter, 
one of the most wretched in London, is almost exclusively 
composed. The large parish of St. Michael, Commercial Road, 
is still more populous; because the neighbourhood of the 
Thames and of the East India Docks attract thither large num- 
bers of labourers. The priests who serve this church, under 
the firm and intelligent direction of an Irish parish priest, the 
Rev. Mr. Kelly, estimate at 20,000 the number of their Catholic 
parishioners. These zealous missionaries not only gave me the 
most valuable information concerning the Irish population 
confided to their care ; but on three different occasions two 
Marist fathers and one of Mr. Kelly's curates were so obliging 
as to guide me through this labyrinth of little streets, blind 
alleys, and dark and narrow lanes, in which a stranger would 
infallibly lose himself if he attempted to visit alone this part of 
London which one would suppose to be a thousand leagues 
from Piccadilly and Hanover Square. 

There it is indeed that are to be found " those unpaved 
streets, without gaslight, and without drainage: those courts 
from which there is egress neither for air nor water ; those pesti- 
lential cess-pools which no other population would inhabit, and 
which for the honor of humanity nowhere else exist."f 

Ordure heaped up at the end of the narrow and dark alleys ; 
fetid pools, which spread around an unwholesome dampness ; 
the little light which can struggle through London's habitual 
fogs intercepted by rags strung across the street ; each house 
divided into a large number of little dark rooms, usually let 
by the week : all these features grouped together will afford 
still but a very imperfect notion of the reality, but a pale 
sketch indeed when compared with the original. 

We penetrated into these famous Irish courts, each of which 
is as it were a distinct colony; we ascended the dark and damp 
staircase of those wretched dwellings; we questioned their 

* Spicer-street ; Albert-place ; "Whifcechapel. 
f Leon Faucher ; Etudes sur f Angleterre , I. 9. 

260 EMIGRATION. |- B00K ir# 

inmates, as to the time they had been in London, the causes 
which had brought them thither, the resources which work 
procured them, their daily budget of incomings and out- 
goings; — questions with which my guides mingled now words 
of consolation and encouragement, now of paternal reproof, 
always received with the most respectful deference, and elicit- 
ing resolutions of improvement for the future. 

To the information gathered on these occasions we have 
been able to add that given us upon the same question by our 
French Sisters of Charity, but lately established in the vicinity 
of Westminster bridge, and by the Sisters who under the 
direction of the Fathers of the Oratory are charged with the 
conduct of the Drury-lane Schools. On reperusing, since this 
journey, the studies of M. Leon Faucher upon these same 
quarters of London, and the very curious work which Mr. 
Henry Mayhew has devoted to the labouring poor of this 
immense city,* we were struck by the coincidence between 
the observations of these two publicists and those which we 
had made ourselves. 

All these impressions may be summed up as follows. 

When Irish Emigrant families upon their arrival in London 
can immediately put themselves into communication with the 
clergy of their quarter, it is easy to keep them to the good 
principles and Christian habits which they have brought with 
them from their own country. 

Very frequently, notwithstanding the pernicious influence 
of the sights to be met with at every step in those eastern re- 
gions, swarming with thieves and prostitutes,! notwithstanding 
the active propagandism of the Bible Societies which imme- 
diately pounce upon the new-comers, and try by every kind of 
means]: to enlist them under the banner of some Protestant 
sect, there are to be found in those haunts of misery, and suf- 
fering prodigies of innocence, virtue, purity, and unshakable 
attachment to the Catholic faith. 

* We might also mention the work of an English lady, which appeared 
during the summer of 1860, under the catching title of Undercurrents Over- 

+ It is in the neighbourhood of the Docks especially that there reigns a 
depravity of which it is impossible to form an idea. English sailors return 
from long voyages with large sums of money, and usually spend them there in 
debauchery and continual orgies of the most shocking kind. 

X We remember a poor Irishwoman of one of the Spitalfields courts, who had 
received, a few days previously to our call, a visit from a sister or wife of one 
of the Protestant ministers of the quarter. She had been offered tea, sugar, 
and a little money, on condition of sending her children to the Protestant 
school. The poor water-cress woman was probably much in want of a few 
shillings to pay the rent of her wretched apartment. She related to us with 
indignationhoweverhowshe had put out of her door this missionary in crinoline. 


It is impossible to read unmoved, in the work of Mr. Henry 
Mayhew, those interrogatories by which he delighted to get 
from the mouths of these poor Irish people details touching 
their position and their habits. The crossing-sweeper, the 
flower-girl, the apple or orange woman, the woman selling 
herrings in the streets, all have generally been driven to Lon- 
don by the same circumstances or the same misfortunes. Their 
parents were farmers in some county of Ireland ; they were 
unable to pay the rent; their cabin was destroyed; living was 
too dear in the country ; to the workhouse they would not go ; 
they came there to London,* where perhaps they already had 
a relation, a brother, an uncle, or friends. Then their relations 
died ; the children were taken in by the neighbours ; and now 
they are making out a livelihood as best they can, and, in spite 
of all the seductions of poverty and vice, still preserve intact 
their morals and their faith. Hear the statement of the Irish 
costermonger, (as reported by Mr. Mayhew,|) in his own words : 
" I had a bit o' land, yer honor, in the county Limerick. 
Well, it wasn't just a farrum, nor what ye would call a garden 
here, but my father lived and died on it — glory be to God !-— 
and brought up me and my sister on it. It was about an acre, 
and the taties was well known to be good. But the sore times 
came, and the taties was afflicted, and the wife and me — I have 
no childer — hadn't a bit nor a sup, but wather to live on, and 
an igg or two. I filt the famine a-comin'. I saw people 
a-feedin' on the wild green things, and as I had not such a bad 

take, I got Mr. (he was the head-master's agent) to 

give me 28s. for possission in quietness, and I sould some poul- 
thry I had — their iggs was a blessin' to keep the life in us — I 
sould them in Limerick for 3s. 3d. — the poor things — four of 
them. The furnithur' I sould to the neighbors, for somehow 
about 6s. It's the thruth I'm a-tellin' of you, sir, and there's 
2s. owing of it still, and will be a perpitual loss. The wife and 
me walked to Dublin, though we had betther have gone by the 
' long say,' but I didn't understand it thin, and we got to Liver- 
pool. Then sorrow's the taste of worruk could I git, beyant 
wonst 3s. for two days harrud porthering, that broke my back 
half in two. I was tould I'd do betther in London, and so, 

glory be to God ! I have, — perhaps I have. I knew Mr. ; 

he porthers at Covent Garden, and I made him out, and hilped 
him in any long distance of a job. As I'd been used to far- 
rumin' I thought it good raison I should be a costermonger, as 

* ' ' They were driven over by the famine, when they could not procure, or 
began to fear that soon they could not procure, food to eat. . . . They were 
forced to take refuge in this country by the evictions, when their landlords 
had left them no roof to shelter them in their own." —(Mayhew, I. 105.) 

1 1. 105, 106. 



they call it here. I can read and write too. And some good 
Christian — the heavens light him to glory when he's gone ! — I 
don't know who he was — advanced me 10s.*— or he gave it me, 

so to spake, through Father . We earrun what keeps the 

life in us. I don't go to market, but buy of a fair dealin' man — 
so I count him — though he's harrud sometimes. I can't till 
how many Irishmen is in the thrade. There's many has been 
brought down to it by the famin' and the changes. I don't go 
much among the English street-dalers. They talk like hay- 
thens. I never miss Mass on a Sunday, and they don't know 
what the blissed Mass manes. I'm almost glad I have no 
childer, to see how they're raired here. Indeed, sir, they're 
not raired at all, — they run wild. They haven't the fear of 
God or the saints. They'd hang a praste — glory be to God ! — - 
they would I" 

Again hear the poor little flower-girl of Drury-lane, who at 
fifteen years of age goes with her sister to sell flowers in the 
rich quarters of London, whilst her brother works at a 
fruiterer's, where he gets from three to four pence a day. 
They are orphans : their father they never knew, and their 
mother is dead; but although young, they have been to a 
Catholic school. The two little girls buy their flowers at 
Covent Garden. They pay for the bouquets at the rate of a 
shilling a dozen ; then they make three out of every two, and 
sell them at a penny each. Sometimes they are able to make 
out one or two more per dozen, but this is a rare case. They 
get the little ozier twigs, with which they tie up their bunches, 
for nothing ; but the paper in which they wrap them costs a 
whole penny per dozen. 

" The two of us doesn't make less than 6d. a-day, 

unless its very ill luck. But religion teaches us that God will 
support us, and if we make less we say nothing. We do better 
on oranges in March and April, I think it is, than on flowers . . . 
I always keep Is. stock-money, if I can. If its bad weather, 
so bad that we can't sell flowers at all, and so if we've had to 
spend our stock-money for a bit of bread, she (the landlady) 
lends us Is. if she has one, or she borrows one of a neighbour 
if she hasn't, or if the neighbours hasn't it, she borrows it at a 
dolly-shop (the illegal pawn-shop). There's 2d. a-week to pay 
for Is. at a dolly, and perhaps an old rug left for it; if it's 
very hard weather, the rug must be taken at night-time, or else 
we are starved with the cold. It sometimes has to be put into 
the dolly again next morning, and then there's 2d. to pay for 
it for the day. . . . We never pawned anything ; we have nothing 
they would take in at the pawn-shop. We live on bread and 
tea, and sometimes a fresh herring of a night. Sometimes we 


don't eat a bit all day when we're out ; sometimes we take a bit 
of bread with us, or buy a bit. My sister can't eat taturs ; they 
sicken her. I don't know what emigrating means. (I informed 
her, and she continued:) No, sir; I wouldn't like to emigrate, 
and leave brother and sister. ... I think our living costs us 2s. 
a-week for the two of us; the rest goes in rent. That's all we 

Not one of these children, adds the author, missed Mass on 

Many other examples might doubtless be added to those we 
have given ; in which would be seen, as the London clergy 
have the consolation to witness them, those prodigies of firm- 
ness, of perseverance in well-doing, of modest heroism uncon- 
scious of itself, of noble and saintly devotedness, which by the 
strangest of contrasts are frequently to be met with in the 
most corrupted of quarters, and which do so much honour to 
the faith that inspires them, to the souls which produce them, 
to God himself who looks down upon them and blesses them. 

But beside these examples of fidelity and of invincible stead- 
fastness in faith and virtue, we have to set as a dark shadow 
to the picture more than one shameful defection, more than 
one degrading fall, more than one irreparable weakness. But 
too often the poor family which the Cork steamer has brought 
to London, and which enters the suburbs of the great city 
begging, imprudently allows itself to be circumvented by dan- 
gerous influences, before having recourse to the good advice and 
to the tutelary protection of the Catholic priest ; it is carried aw^ay 
by the force of bad example, stumbles upon scandal, and falls. 

Weeks and months pass by ; and when by his vigilance, in 
one of his visitations, the pastor becomes acquainted with this 
family in the recesses of one of the Spitalfields courts, he learns 
with grief that it has been there a considerable time, and that 
great harm has been done to it. It has left off the regular 
frequentation of the church on Sundays; the scanty earnings 
of the week have been spent in gin-palaces ; habits of idleness 
and drunkenness have been contracted there, which will not 
fail to become a slippery path towards more fearful depths ; 
perhaps the instances of the " Bible-readers" have been already 
yielded to, and notwithstanding the last cries of conscience the 
children have for the sake of a few shillino;s been sent to the 
Protestant school : from this to apostasy there is but one step, 
and this step many have made. Certainly not that they embrace 
in mind and heart a doctrine repugnant not only to the faith 
of their youth, but also to the very instincts of their nature 
and to the wants of the Irish character; but if bvan incredible 

* Mayliew, I. 136. 



contradiction the heart still remains Catholic, under the cloak 
of apostasy, the efforts of proselytism are encouraged by this 
criminal weakness, it is emboldened in its enterprises ao-ainst 
the conscience of the poor, and the faithful portion of the flock 
is saddened by the joy of its enemies.* 

These dangers are increased in the case of those Irish 
families which instead of settling down permanently in Lon- 
don change their occupation and place of abode according to 
the seasons. Thus, every year, in the month of August, a 
large portion of the Spitalfields population leave London, and 
make for the neighbouring counties, in order to work at the 
harvest. They thus pass two or three months in exclusively 
Protestant counties and before their return much harm has 
been done them, not to speak of the roving and mendicant 
habits which this kind of work easily engenders. Thus those 
who know the London Irish best very rightly remark that the 
population of Commercial Road, having steady work and fixed 
habits, is generally better than the floating population of Spital- 
fields, since it is at least beyond the perils inherent to a life 
of constant migration. 

More serious dangers, however, arise from the seductions of 
immorality than from the efforts of Protestant proselytism. 
With the exception of those children who being sent to the 
Evangelical Schools unconsciously imbibe the influence of an 
anti-Catholic education, the Irish whom misery has momen- 
tarily driven into apostasy would not wish to die without being 
reconciled to the Church. It is almost unexampled for an 
Irish apostate not to call in the priest immediately he is con- 
scious of danger. At that solemn moment, which dispels every 
illusion, silences all cupidity, swamps all human interest and 
banishes all human respect, the old faith of the poor Irishman 
asserts its empire. For twenty years perhaps he has not been 
inside his chapel, and he has sometimes gone instead to the 
Protestant one; he has carefully shunned the reproaches of 
his parish priest ; and he has attempted to deaden with whiskey 
the terrible sting of his conscience : but death is at hand, and 
this edifice of iniquity crumbles away; alone in the midst of 
these ruins, the severe but encouraging voice of the religion 
of his youthful days is to be heard ; and this poor soul, perhaps 
more weak than guilty, finds no peace until the respected habit 
of his ghostly father has reappeared within his sorry retreat, 
and has, in the name of Him who is all-mighty to pardon, 
restored to the unfortunate man his peace of heart and his 
hopes of eternity. 

* This is a faithful summary of the information we gathered at Spitalfields, 
?„t the Drury-lane schools, and, from our French Sisters at Westminster. 




We must not therefore however overlook the fact that the 
Irish Emigration to England and Scotland produces in many 
individual cases results which cannot be too deeply deplored. 

But there also, as well as in America and Australia, through 
the economy of an admirable Providence, God makes use of 
these Irish emigrants in the propagation and extension of the 
faithful tribe of Catholics in the midst of English and Scotch 
Protestantism. What progress has not the Catholic religion 
made within the last thirty years ! and might not the Catholics 
say to their separated brethren what Tertullian said to the 
Cassars of the second century: " Our religious liberty is but 
of yesterday ; and behold we fill your towns, your islands, your 
forts, your councils, your camps, your tribes, your decurise, 

the palace, the senate, the forum You have persecuted 

us during centuries, and behold we spring up afresh from the 
blood of the martyrs !"* 

At the beginning of the reign of George III., England and 
Scotland scarcely counted 60,000 Catholics who had remained 
true to the faith of their fathers. Their number in 1821 was, 
according to the official census, 500,000.f In 1842 they were 
estimated at from 2,000,000 to 2,500,000. At present they 
number nearly 4,000,000; and of this total the single city of 
London figures for more than 250,0004 

* ' ' Hesterni sumus, et vestra omnia iinplevimus, urbes, insulas, castella, 
municipia, conciliabula, castra ipsa, tribus, decurias, palatium, senatum, forum. 
Plures efficimur quoties mefcimur a vobis. Semen est sanguis Christianorum !" — 
(Tert. ; Apolog. ; c. iv. andl.) 

f Du Mouvement Religieux en Angleterre ; by Jules G-ondon ; p. 44. 

X These figures are only approximate. The English census for 1861 makes 
no distinction of religious denominations. At London the annual average of 
baptisms in the Catholic churches was, for the years 1858, 1859, and 1860, 
8,549. According to government estimation each baptism represents thirty 
inhabitants ; and Irish families being generally very numerous, this figure would 
probably be rather below than above the truth. However this may be, 
8,549 X 30 gives 256,470 : this woidd be the amount of the Catholic popula- 
tion of London. The greater part of the Catholics are Irish. The following 
are according to the information put at our disposal with the most obliging 
kindness by Dr. Grant, Bishop of Southwark, a few detailed statistics of the 
Catholic population of several towns in England and Scotland. (These figures 
have however no official character) : — 

Total number of Catholics. 

Number of Irish 




Liverpool .... 



Birmingham .... 



Preston .... 






Bolton .... 



St. Helens (Lancashire) 







. 127,000 


Finally we must not forget that about one-half the army and navy is com- 
posed of Irish Catholics. 



Up to the year 1840, there were in England only four Apos- 
tolic Vicarships. Ten years afterwards (1850) the glorious 
Pontiff now reigning re-established at least in England* the 
regular hierarchy, and grouped around the Metropolitan See 
of Westminster in an imposing province twelve suffragan 

In 1792, England and Wales counted no more than 35 
chapels; in 1840 the number amounted to 500, amongst which 
are vast and splendid churches, such as St. George's Southwark, 
and the Birmingham Cathedral. f At present the number is 
nearly 1,0004 

In 1843, there were in England 648 missionary priests, 9 
Colleges, and 27 Monasteries or Convents. Now the number 
of priests is 1,200 ;§ of religious communities of men 57, of 
women 153. In the single town of Manchester there are at 
present more Catholics than there were in the whoie of Eng- 
land under George III. Of these more than three-fourths are 

In connexion with the movement of individual conversions, 
which yearly brings into our ranks from those of Protestantism 
the most upright the sincerest and best disposed souls, the Irish 
Emigration to England is then destined to play an important 
part in the so desirable return of that great island to the faith 
which she received in the sixth century from St. Gregory the 
Great and St. Augustin of Canterbury. That faith, a short 
time ago proscribed, but yesterday scarcely tolerated, sees its 
conquests daily multiplying, and its empire extended ; that 
Church has scarcely emerged from the catacombs of persecu- 
tion into which the bloody edicts of Elizabeth had driven it, — 
and now, thanks to the share of liberty which it enjoys, greater 
in that Protestant country than in some which have never ceased 
to be Catholic, it is daily gaining ground, to the gain of truth 
and justice; it is dispelling by degrees the prejudices of ages; 
it is triumphing by its charitable institutions, by the zeal of its 
apostles, and by the not unfrequently heroic constancy of its 

* The Vicarships Apostolic still continue in Scotland. They are three in 
number. (Eastern, Western, and Northern Districts.) England counts one 
Archbishopric, (Westminster, substituted for the ancient primatial see of Can- 
terbury), and- twelve suffragan bishoprics : (Southwark, Hexham, Beverley, 
Liverpool, Salford, Shrewsbury, Newport, Clifton, Plymouth, Nottingham, 
Birmingham, Northampton.) 

+ The poor Irish Catholics of Commercial Eoad, of whom we have spoken 
above, have just finished building a magnificent church. It has cost £26,000. 
This enormous sum is the product of penny subscriptions continued during the 
last twenty years. They are really the poor who have built this church, with 
the fruits of their savings and their privations. 

J Together with Scotland 1,019. 

§ Precise number including Scotland, 1.388.— {Oath. Direct. ; 1862, p. 348.) 


faithful, over the antipathies of its adversaries and the ill-will 
of its contradictors. Are we not thus visibly progressing 
towards that complete reconciliation of England with the truth, 
which Bossuet presaged, and which was but lately hailed with 
rapture and emotion by the voice of another great bishop?* 



After having attempted to sketch the moral and religious 
results of Irish Emigration, it remains for us now to estimate 
its economical and political consequences. 

Whilst we still firmly maintain that under other social con- 
ditions, with a better system of management of land, and 
especially with more equitable relations between those who 
possess and those who till the soil, Ireland could with ease at 
the time when her population was greatest have supported all 
her inhabitants; — whilst strongly and indignantly protesting 
against the egotistical views of those who dare to say that Pro- 
vidence made a mistake in allowing to be born on the banks of 
the Shannon and Liffey those thousands of men who escape 
misery and death only by going to colonize the plains of the 
St. Lawrence and the fertile valleys of the Oceanic colonies ;f — 
whilst affirming with Mr. Cobden that when emigration arises 
from the necessity of fleeing legal famine^ it is no longer 
Emigration but Transportation, — and with John Stuart Mill 
that a government is judged and condemned when its subjects 
can find no room to live in the country of their birth ;§ — 
we may nevertheless accept the fact that this considerable 
displacement of men has not been for nothing in the material 
improvement which has been made during the last ten years in 
Ireland. Fewer hands to employ, and fewer mouths to feed, — 
such have in several counties been the cause of a rise in wages 

* See the conclusion of the sermon preached at St. Roch, March 25, 1860, 
in favour of these poor Irish, by Mgr. the Bishop of Orleans. 

t The Times, 22nd Feb. 1847 : "Remove Irishmen to the banks of the 
Ganges, or the Indus, and they would be far more in their element than in the 
country to which an inexorable fate has confined ihem" 

% And for a long time this was the only motive which acted upon numbers 
of Irishman. 

§ Principles of Political Economy ; I. 381. 




and a decrease in public poverty.* The departure of millions 
of men for other continents has left more room in the sun- 
shine, and a more abundant share in the goods of the earth, for 
those who remain. As to the emigrants, all assuredly have not 
made their fortune ; and the dreams which induced many to 
leave for ever their family and the land of their birth soon gave 
way before the stern reality. Still, looking in a general way at 
the future which they have opened out for themselves by their 
bold determination, it must be admitted that the attempts at 
colonization made by the Irish in America have largely compen- 
sated the greater part of the emigrants for their sacrifices. Nay, 
a certain number of them have already attained even the hio-hest 
positions in American society,! 

Their labour, instead of going as in Ireland to swell a fortune 
of which nothing comes back to them, has the immediate effect 
of increasing the well-being and comfort both of themselves 
and of their families. They grow wealthy, but not like those 
parvenus whose prosperity chills the heart; they know how to 
use their riches without avarice or grovelling cupidity ; we have 
seen how large a share of that wealth, the fruit of simple toil 
and bought by the most painful of sacrifices, is devoted to the 
wants of parents and friends left behind in Ireland, victims to 
the poverty which would seem to be inherent to that island. 
Thus they are not themselves the only ones to profit by their 
successes ; and hence perhaps Emigration will of itself supply 
the remedy destined to mitigate and heal the wounds inflicted 
by its excess on Ireland. 

An appreciation of the political results of this movement is 
a much more delicate and conjectural matter. It is however 
impossible that this ever flowing tide which is carrying out 

* Weekly Average of Wages, in several counties of Ireland, according to the 
Official Report published by order of the House of Commons, March 8, 1861 ; (!) 





Roscommon (where wages are at the best) 



Waterford (where wages are lowest) 

s. d. 

8 6 
6 6 
4 6 

s. d. 
4 11 
3 7 
2 9 

S. d. 
4 6 
3 9 
2 5 

During the harvest time, that is for about six weeks, wages double in some 

It will be seen by these figures that supposing wages to have increased within 
the last ten years, this increase is neither so general nor so great as was sup- 
posed before the publication of this Report. — (House of Commons ; March 8, 
1861. — Motion of Lord Dunkellin, Member for Gal way.) 

t Smith O'Brien's Lectures on America; p. 13. 

CHAP.. XI.] 


from Ireland to America a Catholic population deeply sensible 
of English oppression in Ireland, should not finally alarm the 
very men who at the commencement of that movement were 
loudest in their self-congratulations. That the Celts, with 
their ever despised religion, make room in Ireland for the 
Saxons and their State Church; that this Church, — which 
durinc the last three hundred years has been the object of the 
most persistent and energetic protests, even on the part of her 
followers, — should live to see opposition trodden down, and 
herself enjoying the unjust possession of the spoils with which 
she has enriched herself; — that all this should be a subject of 
great joy to Exeter Hall meetings we can conceive. But 
beside the naive and unreflecting enthusiasm of fanatics, there 
are also preoccupations and cares for politicians. After all, it is 
useless to disguise the fact; a Catholic Ireland is rising up 
beycmd the seas in the bosom or by the side of the United- 
States' Republic, wdiich cherishes for England but the most 
bitter memories, and feels for her but the deepest enmity. 
What will come of this in the Future? Will not the joy con- 
sequent upon the Celtic Exodus end in dark morrow ? 

If this movement continue, — said the Times, in a very 
curious article, on the 4th of May I860,* — Ireland will become 
altogether English, and the United States Republic altogether 
Irish. Yes, the time may come when Ireland will be no more 
Celtic than the Lowlands of Scotland are Saxon, the Eastern 
Counties Danish, Cornwall Phoenician, or Ireland itself Mile- 
sian or Spanish. But it is impossible that some millions of 
pure Celts should be sent into the United States without intro- 
ducing in more considerable proportions an element of a very 
special kind, that is to say more of poetry, more of eloquence, 
more of fanaticism, more of a factious and conspiring spirit, 
more rancour, more murder,f more insubordination, more of 
that narrow policy which is inherent to the character of the 

race There will then be again an Ireland, but a colossal 

Ireland, and an Ireland placed in the New World. " We shall 
only have pushed the Celt westwards ;" — ceasing for the future 
to be imprisoned between the Liffey and the Shannon, he will 

spread from New York to San Francisco " We must 

gird our loins to encounter the Nemesis of seven centuries of mis- 
government. — To the end of time a hundred millions of people, 

* This article is entitled The Irish Exodus. 

t The official criminal statistics (quoted ante p. 71, &c.) sufficiently show that 
it scarcely becomes the English to reproach the Irish with a spirit of homicide. 
Greater tact would have been evinced had this point been passed by in silence, 
and a comparison left untouched in which according to their own avowal the 
English have nothing whatever to gain. 


spread over the largest habitable area in the world, and con- 
fronting us every where by sea and by land, will remember 
that their forefathers paid tithe to the Protestant clergy, rent 
to absentee landlords, and a forced obedience to the laws which 
these had made." And even though the rancorous Celt were 
to forget and forgive, that will not prevent the sure develop- 
ment of an intractable race, and the introduction of intractable 
elements into the character of the great American nation. It will 
be more than half Celtic. Doubtless the Saxon, Danish, French, 
German, African, and other races besides will be found in it; 
but the preponderating race of all will be that one which has at- 
tained the climax of its perfection and its glory on the banks of the 
Seine, and which has been 'precipitated into the deepest abysses 
of degradation and despair on the western shores of Ireland. So 
we shall have nourished and brought up, by us, at home, a 
power which is called to rule over the New World, to extend 
its influence over both the oceans, and to become the master of 
an entire hemisphere. This New World is the true and final 
home of the Celtic race. It is for this home that it has tra- 
velled and suffered for two thousand years ; it is for this that 
it has never planted itself solidly and as a civilized people in a 
land which was not destined to be its habitation. But what will 
be the reaction of these events upon the metropolis, [London, — 
England, — !] ? Doubtless riches and the resources of industry 
will still continue to encrease among us. Mechanism will 
supply the work of men's hands ; we shall see an increase in 
feet and hands of iron, slaves that know neither love nor 
hatred, made expressly for cold masters like us, slaves who 
will not run away, and who will never ask of us either kindness 
or justice. It is thus that at last we shall perhaps attain in 
these islands, if our neighbours will but let us alone, that 
peace for which we have been sighing so long. " We are 
throwing off agitators and repealers, socialists and perhaps 
reformers ; old England turns itself on its bed and expects 
another slumber. But its own morbid growth of idleness, 
luxury, pride, and vice, it cannot so easily get rid of. They 
must grow upon it, all the more from the absence of the more 
violent annoyances that but lately formed the staple of its 
domestic annals." 

So, the Times. 

What grounds are there for these forebodings, and for these 
fears, as selfish as the hopes with which they are coupled? 
The Saxon congratulates himself on the disappearance of the 
Celtic race, in the oppression of which he has squandered his 
gold, his blood, and his honor; he rejoices at seeing the clear- 
ance of that focus of discontent and rebellion on which the 


fire of his jealousy and injustice was unceasingly concen- 
trated ; the Irishman will at least leave him a clear field ; and 
the agricultural, industrial, and commercial monopoly, to 
become possessed of which he has left no means untried, 
will for the future be his without a contest ; silence and peace 
are at last about to succeed to the struggles and bickerings 
which have lived on for ages. 

Is not this however a terrible victory? Whilst England, 
lulled to slumber in a false security, no longer warned by the 
struggles and indomitable opposition of an oppressed people, 
shall be eaten up by her pride and consumed by her thirst 
after material enjoyment, will not that Catholic and Irish 
empire which the Emigration movement is forming beyond 
the seas, be constantly preparing, by a secret destiny, the ter- 
rible retribution of seven hundred years of persecution ? 

If so, the great law of the moral order, the realization of 
which we daily see in the life of individuals, and which bears 
the stamp of divine wisdom and equity, would but be verified. 
To chastise a man or a nation for his, or its, crimes, nothing is 
needed beyond these crimes themselves :* in their sad fruitf ul- 
ness they bear their own punishment ; and by falling back 
upon their author, they make him feel that the order established 
by God, whether for the conduct of individuals or of nations, 
is not to be violated with impunity. Evil as well as good pro- 
duces in the future, for those who have wrought it, inevitable 
consequences. In order to punish men and governments for 
their excesses, their cupidity, and their bad passions, God has 
but to stand apart and let things take their course. Ages do 
not roll by before the world has witnessed some great and 
solemn reparation, destined to strike down the pride of some, 
to crown the faith and patience of others, and to make mani- 
fest to all the imprescriptible laws of a Providence in which 
are coupled, by a divine accord, infinite mercy and infinite 

* " Per quae peccat quis, per hsec et torquetur." (Sap. : xi. 17) . 





After having followed beyond the seas those thousands of 
Irishmen for whom Ireland seems to be too small, — that is 
those who abandoning the idea of walking in a path without 
exit, and of spending their vigour upon insurmountable 
obstacles, determine to seek afar a new country and the 
chance of a less desperate future, — there remains a painful 
task for us to perform. 

It is a fact that among the agricultural families driven out of 
their little holdings by farm consolidation, large numbers find 
emigration impossible : sometimes the family is too numerous 
to make for America, and cannot command the resources neces- 
sary for the voyage ; and sometimes age and infirmity stand in 
the way of an undertaking for which boldness and vigour are 

Many attempt to protract the struggle, and to remain in the 
country ; whether by finding a strip of marsh or bog land to 
cultivate, when possible, or by hiring themselves out as farm 

Others make for the suburbs of the most populous cities, 
and attempt to eke out a livelihood in those wretched and 
ephemeral callings which are but too frequently inseparable 
from vagabondism and mendicity. 

At last when all struggling is at an end, when the last re- 
sources are exhausted, when poverty with freedom is about to 
end in certain death, they are obliged to have recourse to 
public charity: the Workhouse is as it were the term of that 
cheerless career of suffering and trial which so many thousands 
of families have to traverse. Let us study as closely as pos- 
sible the condition of these unfortunates. 

G jj APj l] destitution. 273 

The destitution of the Irish people has we are well aware 
Jong been a hackneyed theme. So much has been written, so 
copious have been the dissertations on this subject, especially 
at the time of the great famine, that nothing can be said which 
is not already known. Would to God, however, that in be- 
coming commonplace this subject had ceased to be a living 
reality ! Happy the historian who undertaking to dwell upon 
the harrowing details of this misery should have the consola- 
tion to be able to add that its existence is confined to books; 
and that if it may still lawfully call for the researches of the 
learned, it is no longer a matter of grief to the politician of 
to-day ! 

We trust we shall say nothing upon this painful question 
which may overstep the limits of the most rigid exactness. 
If the necessities of history oblige us to speak of the Ireland 
of other days, we cannot forget that our object is to give an 
exact idea of Ireland as it is. It is not then the memories of 
the past which we shall awake in order to offer the reader an 
idea of the poverty and wretchedness of the present day in 
Ireland ; but facts witnessed but yesterday by ourselves, and 
facts which will certainly occur again to-morrow. 

For the rest, and to be precise in this matter so as to obviate 
all misunderstanding, it will suffice to distinguish with care the 
different periods ; it will thus be easy to allow a certain re- 
lative progress to the present state of things. On one side of 
the question it is beyond a doubt that absolute poverty is to- 
day neither so general nor so absolute as it was thirty years 
ago; but, notwithstanding this relative progress, what suffer- 
ings and what privations are there not still in existence, and 
that in these very years which we have just left behind, and 
in which we are still living, in 1860, 1861, ,1862. To pass 
over such facts in silence would be to betray alike the cause 
of charity and of truth. * 

* It was long ago remarked by M. Gustave de Beaumont that in Ireland a 
certain relative progress was perfectly compatible with the continued existence 
of pauperism among the lower classes. This observation is too important, and 
the evidence of M. de Beaumont too decisive, to permit us to omit his own 
words; words so totally forgotten since, in all the discussions which have 
arisen touching the real condition of Ireland. 

"One single cause suffices to explain why the agricultural population be- 
comes poorer, whilst the prosperity of the rich is on the increase: it is that all 
improvement in the land is profitable solely to the proprietor, who exacts more 
rent from the farmer in proportion as he works the land into a better state. 
If rents are doubled, the land may produce double its usual amount without 
effecting any change in the condition of the tenants. The question is not what 
the population produces, but what it consumes ; not what it pays to landlords, but 
what it gains for itself by theproduce of the soil. It is for want of making i/iis 
distinction thai so many contradictions are fallen into upon this point" (Vol. 
II. p. 311.) 



On his arrival in Dublin, the first impression of the newly- 
arrived traveller is an extremely painful one, and many days 
are required to surmount it. Whether he come from Ger- 
many, England, or France; whether he be Protestant or 
Catholic ; it is impossible for him not to be very painfully 
affected at the sight of the unfortunate barefooted and rao-gecL 
creatures whom he meets with at nearly every step, even in the; 
busiest streets and wealthiest quarters, of the Irish Capital. 
This destitution may or may not be attributed to different 
causes ; to deny its existence is out of the question. Protestants 
are pleased to see in it the result of Catholic institutions and 
usages. They make pleasant comparisons between the rags of 
Naples and those of Limerick ; and keeping out of sight what 
goes on in the low quarters of Liverpool, and the East of Lon- 
don, proudly set off the well-being the carnage and the pros- 
perity of Protestant nations against the degradation and misery 
of the Irish and the Neapolitans. The English, in particular, 
explain away much to their own satisfaction the destitution of 
Ireland by putting it down to idleness and drunkenness, and 
never represent to themselves .the Catholic Celt otherwise than 
in rags with an outstretched hand. Others would perhaps look 
for the secret of so extraordinary a poverty in causes more , 
remote and less personal. Whatever may be the divergence 
of opinion with regard to the causes of this destitution, still 
the destitution itself escapes no one. Whoever has set foot on 
Irish soil, has seen the sorrowful spectacle; — to see it, it 
suffices merely not to shut one's eyes; to be profoundly 
afflicted at it, it needs but to have the heart of a man.* 

The Venerable Archbishop of Dublin, the Most Rev. Dr. 
Cullen, wrote a few years ago to Lord St. Leonards, depicting 
in eloquent, terms "the wretchedness and destitution of the 
Dublin poor."f 

But recently again, in a pastoral letter of the 27th of No- 

* A German Protestant, Dr. Julius Rodenberg, who visited Ireland at the 
same time as the author, begins his account by expressing his astonishment at 
the sight of Ireland's poverty, such as it appeared to him in the streets of Dub- 
lin. (The Island of the Saints; London, 1861 ; p. 1, 8, 9, 24, 30.) As to the prin- 
cipal causes of this destitution, his Protestant prejudices in nowise hinder him 
from stating them very clearly : ' ' You are in a country whence people emigrate 
by thousands, while fields of such an extent and power of production as would 
support them all, lie fallow, " (p. 8) . . . " The Irish are strangers in their own 
land, their own houses, their own sanctuaries ; they feel themselves to be 
strangers, and speak English as strangers [foreigners]," (p. 9). (See also his 
description of the poor of Limerick : ch. x ; p. 291). 

f " Were your lordship to visit some of the ruined lanes and streets of Dub- 
lin, your heart would thrill with horror at the picture of human woe which 
would present itself." — (Dr. Cullen's Letter to the Rt. Hon. Lord St. Leonards, 
21 Nov., 1857.) 


vember 1861, the same prelate recalled to the minds of the 
faithful of his diocese the strict obligation incumbent on them 
of coming to the assistance of those " tens of thousands of 
human beings, destitute of all the comforts of life," who are 
to-be met with at every step in all great towns and cities.* 

For the rest, in order to come at a just idea of this destitution 
one must not content oneself with what one may see in the 
streets or in the great thoroughfares; those quarters must be 
penetrated into whither the curious so rarely turn their steps, 
but the lamentable secrets of which are so familiar to the zeal 
and charity of the Dublin clergy. 

The poor quarters of Cork, Limerick and Drogheda, present 
the same spectacle, and justify the sad proverbial celebrity of 
Irish rags. Dirt, negligence, and want of care, doubtless, go 
a long way in giving to destitution in Ireland its repulsive and 
hideous form ; but who is unaware that continued and hope- 
less destitution engenders as of necessity listlessness and care- 
lessness, and that to enter upon a struggle with poverty, there 
must be at least some chance of carrying off the victory? 
Without this condition man but too frequently lays down his 
arms, and speedily loses all activity and energy ; he submits 
to destitution as to a fatal force which it would be absurd to 
withstand; he surrenders to it a thousand details of life which 
if he had greater courage he might still save from its disas- 
trous influence. 

It is not without some foundation, then, that English Protes- 
tant writers reproach the Irish with complacency in dirt and 
slovenliness; they are right, when looking at the whiskey- 
shop they ask what has become of the pence which prudently 
laid by would every week allow one to buy a pair of shoes, 
another to get his clothes mended, and the majority not to 
offend the sight of the passers-by by appearing in shapeless 
and nameless rags. But these same critics are blinded by 
prejudice and fanaticism when they hold Catholicity responsi- 
ble for so deplorable a state of things. On the contrary no 
one is ignorant of the fact that the influence of the Catholic 
clergy with the faithful daily tends to mitigate and change 
it ; that the enlightened and ever respectfully received advice 
of their pastors is gradually introducing among even the 
poorest families habits of order and cleanliness hitherto 

* ' ' Unhappily we have before us, even in the great towns and cities, tens of 
thousands of human beings destitute of all the comforts of life, oftentimes bare- 
footed, without food, and without raiment. If you enter the wretched abodes 
where they live, you will find that they have no fuel, that they are unprovided 
with beds and other furniture, and that, generally, they have not a single 
blanket to protect them from the cold." — (Pastoral Letter of Mgr. Cullen, 
Archbishop of Dublin, 27 Nov., 1881.) 


unknown; that the visits and cares so well understood and car- 
ried into practice by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul have 
already wrought wonders on this point ; and that, in. fine, if 
the Venerable Father Matthew* no longer travels from town to 
town and from village to village to snatch from drunkenness the 
victims which are usually hurried into it by misery and despair, 
his work has survived him, and Temperance Societies still con- 
tinue to call upon the people for sacrifices! of the merit and 
difficulty of which no idea can be formed by those classes of 
society in which luxury and sensuality in living are on a par 
with the sumptuousness of their houses, their furniture, and 
their garments. 

For the last ten years there has been taking place in the 
large cities an accumulation of poor as fatal to their health as 
to their morality. They are mostly country people whom 
eviction has driven in from the country, who have been unable 
to emigrate, and who were unwilling to shut themselves up 
immediately in the Workhouses. The resources they procure 
for themselves by doing odd work are so completely insuffi- 
cient that it is impossible to be surprised at their destitution. 

The Census Commission of 1841, with a view to give a precise 
notion of the state of the working population both in town and 
country, divided the inhabitants into four classes. The last 
comprised all those families in which the father, mother, and 
children, of whatever age or sex, have but one room, or even 
in certain cases a portion of a room occupied already by 
another family. At that time the proportion of families obliged 
to live in that manner was : 

For the rural population 83 per 100. 

,, town „ 70 per 100. 

Average 76 per 100. 

There is no doubt that as far as concerns the rural popula- 
tion these proportions are considerably reduced ; since what 
has disappeared under the stroke of eviction and farm-conso- 
lidation are precisely the most wretched of the small cabins. 
We do not however believe that a similar change can be stated as 
having taken place in the dwellings of the town poor. The last 
Census is silent upon this point ; but a very recent work, pub- 
lished by Mr. Nugent Robinson, upon the dwellings of the 

* As to the work so well accomplished by this holy friar, see the book enti- 
tled : Du mouvemcnt religieux era A vgletcrre, by M. Jules Gondon ; ch. vii. ; 
p. 201-221. 

t One day we saw in a public thoroughfare of Limerick, a poor man go on 
his knees before the Catholic curate with whom we were visiting the poor 
quarters of the town, and make the formal promise. It was that of the temper- 
ance pledge for life. 

CHAI\ I.] 



Dublin poor, puts us in a position to affirm that their sanitary 
condition is such as loudly to call for the intervention of the 
administration. Mr. Robinson estimates at 8000, (that is a 
third of the total number), the houses in Dublin which are let 
out by rooms to the labourers and the poor; and at 64,000, 
(out of .a population of 250,000), those who inhabit these sort 
of houses. Situated for the most part in the recesses of dark 
alleys, and of narrow and damp courts, these dwellings are 
unhealthy ; and the poor are huddled together in such num- 
bers in the rooms of these houses that it is impossible that 
grave mischief should not thereby occur to health, and even 
to morality.* 

This state of things most frequently arises from the cupidity 
of the proprietors and of the lodging-house keepers, whose aim 
is to get the greatest possible amount of money out of the 
smallest space, and who constantly pack together without 
scruple five, six, or seven persons, where three only could live 
with anything approaching to ease. As moreover these poor 
people fear nothing so much as being turned out, they endure 
patiently any kind of conditions, and think themselves but too 
happy in having a shelter for the night, however wretched 
and unhealthy. 

The Liberties^ of Dublin, certain quarters of Cork, that 

* We subjoin a few figures borrowed from Mr. .Nugent Robinson's work : 

Number of lodg- 
ing houses. 

Number of 

Number of 

Number of 

Cole-alley . 
Elbow-lane . 












(Quoted in the Neros of Jan. 31st 1862.) 

t This name is given to a certain quarter of the south-west of Dublin^ 
between Francis- street and the Grand Canal Docks. This quarter, which in 
the eighteenth century enjoyed extensive privileges, was formerly chiefly in- 
habited by Protestant families of French origin, driven out of France by the Re- 
vocation of the Edict of Nantes, artizans working principally in Silk and Wool. 
This population amounted to about 40,000 souls. 3400 spindles and 1200 silk 
looms were in full activity when the breaking out of the French Revolution of 
'89 first grievously injured these trades, and the Irish Rebellion of '98 gave 
them the death stroke. At that time it was the quarter of the rich merchants ; 
it has since become the town of the poor ; and the announcement that the Li- 
berties were coming down into the town, has produced much the same sensation 
in Dublin as did in Paris and Lyons, during the revolution, the mere mention 
of the faubourgs Mouffetard and Saint Antoine, or of the workmen of the 
Croix-Rousse. The inhabitants of the Liberties are the most wretched it is 
possible to conceive. "In these holes the most wretched and pitiable labourers 
imaginable live ; they often lie by hundreds together on the bare ground." — 
(Roclenberg; The Island of the Saints, p. 30.) 


portion of Limerick called the Irish town,* and the suburbs of 
Drogheda, give us a fair idea of the places in which are packed 
together the poor families who have been torn violently away 
from the labours of the fields. 



" Irish destitution," said M. Gustave de Beaumont,! " forms 
a genus apart: it is like no other destitution." 

In fact the leading features of this destitution, that which 
gives it a distinct place in the family of human miseries, is the 
fact that it strikes at man for the most part directly in the 
most imperative of all his wants, in that one the satisfaction of 
which is most important for the preservation of his life. 
Hunger: that is the terrible form in which destitution has 
always attacked Ireland. So long has this scourge afflicted 
that unfortunate country that it has become an element of her 
normal state; so that in order to characterize the different de- 
grees of intensity with which it rages among its numerous 
victims, expressions, fortunately unknown to the other chris- 
tian and civilized peoples of Europe, have had to be invented. 
In Ireland it has been necessary to distinguish death by quick 
and death by slow famine.^ 

It is usually only in times of famine, properly so called, that 
the Irish die of " quick " hunger, that is to say in absolute 
want of all food ; but even in ordinary years the number of 
those who suffer from slow hunger, that is who have not suffi- 
cient to eat, is always very large.§ 

Up to the time of the great famine the only food of the 
peasantry, in all parts of Ireland indiscriminately, consisted of 
potatoes. A very inferior kind, called the lumper, was pretty 
generally used since the beginning of the present century. 
Upon its first introduction it was scarcely looked upon as pro- 
per food for pigs. It possesses, in fact, neither the farinaceous 

* "In Irish town the poor reside in ill-built, badly ventilated, filthy hovels. * 
(Black. — Picturesque Tourist, &c. p. 200. Rodenberg, p. 200-201. 

t Vol. I, p. 218. 

J UMande; by MM. Chavanne de la Giraudiere, et Huillard-Brgholles ; p. 230. 

§ In order to spare people the trouble of accusing us of deceiving the reader^ 
by giving him as an exact representation of the present state of things a worn- 
out picture of bygone misery, we beg to refer our readers to the Appendix for 
an Historical Summary of what we term the constant transmission from gene- 
ration to generation of destitution in Ireland. 


qualities of the worst kind of ordinary potato, nor the flavour 
of any other ; it is clammy and tasteless, and less nourishing 
than the Swedish turnip. Scarcely however was it introduced 
before it was immediately used for the food of men ; because 
it gave more abundant crops, required less care in cultivating, 
and grew well in bad soil.'* 

The official report of the Census of 1851 stated that famines 
had become more frequent since potatoes had become the sole 
food of the people. At this no one can be astonished, for, on 
the one hand, potatoes will not keep from year to year, and 
consequently in years of abundance no provision can be made 
for times of scarcity; and on the other hand, the transport of 
this vegetable is difficult, and entails expenses which its low 
value will not cover. Thus districts in which the crop has 
been good find it next to impossible to come to the assistance 
of those in need.j 

Under this exclusive and unsatisfactory system scarcity was 
periodical. It usually began every year towards the end of 
April, the time at which the last year's crop becomes bad, and 
lasted until the end of August, that is the time of the new 

The cruel experience of the years 1846 and 1847 has not 
been lost ; efforts, generally crowned with success, have accus- 
tomed the Irish peasant not to count exclusively upon potatoes. 
In 1847, by the efforts of the English government and thanks 
to the offerings of the whole world, a considerable quantity of 
maize was sent to Ireland ; the peasantry became used to make 
this flour enter into their ordinary food ; and by this happy 
substitution they were enabled, at least in the Eastern and 
Southern counties, to get through the bad years without being 
necessarily obliged to die of hunger. 

In Ulster, especially, the peasantry are better fed within the 
last ten years. To maize they add the colonial corn stuffs, which 
are carried down by rail even to the small villages. Hence 
there is an amelioration in the nourishment of the agricultural 
classes of that province which is producing satisfactory results 
on the general health of the community. 

In certain other counties also a considerable improvement is 
spoken of. Formerly the Irishman eat meat only two or three 
times a-year, at Christmas, Shrovetide and Easter; and in the 
greater number of families this treat was confined to Christmas 
Day. The use of meat has become much more common within 

* Railway Commissioners' Report; {Edinburgh Review, Jan. 1848.) 
*f* Selections from the Evidence received bij the Poor Irish Enquiry Commissioner sj 
p. 225,— M. de Beaumont; Vol. J, p. 360.— Blue Book, Census of 1851. 
t M. de Beaumont; 1 , 362. 

DESTITUTION. [book r# 

the last ten years; at least among those tenants who have 
humane and equitable landlords, and who, after having satisfied 
their obligations, can turn to the profit of themselves and their 
families the fruits of their harvest and the produce of their 
little homesteads. 

This progress is however far from general. There are still, 
among the boggy regions and mountainous districts of the 
north-west whole populations to whom the loss of a potato-crop 
is the inevitable forerunner of scarcity and of unspeakable 

Therefore, when such enchanting pictures of Ireland's pros- 
perity are drawn, it would be but right, in the interest of truth, 
to note where painful exceptions are to be found. The Irish 
peasantry, considered as a body, are not, and we have to bless 
Providence for it, now reduced to that frightful misery which 
weighed upon them uninterruptedly for such a number of 
years, and which threw all Europe into consternation by disas- 
ters unparalleled in the middle ages. But if this scarcity is 
now but of a partial and local description, it still continues to 
be periodical, and to bring with it a train of incredible privations 
and of the most cruel of sufferino-s. 

What continues to be always true is this: that wherever 
tenants are crushed under the burthens imposed upon them 
under the existing land system, — wherever the stupid abuse of 
the rights of property obtains, — those who cultivate the land 
are in a deplorable state of destitution and ignorance; and 
wherever on account of the difficulty of communication the 
use of maize and of colonial produce and especially of meat is 
as rare as in past times, there the daily living of the Irish 
peasant is supremely wretched, and far inferior to that of the 
poorest of our day labourers in France. 



The destitution of the agricultural classes in order to be rightly 
appreciated must be seen in the boggy and mountainous re- 
gions of Munster, of Connacht, and of the Western portion 
of Ulster. There alone can one comprehend the fact that a 
week's rain is sufficient, by rotting the potato crop, to bring 
about a famine immediately, and so reduce the population to 
the last extremitv. 



The ordinary dwelling of the small tenant or of the day- 
labourer in that part of Ireland answers with the utmost pre- 
cision the description given of it twenty years ago by M. de 
Beaumont: "Let the reader picture to himself four walls of 
dried mud, which the rain easily reduces to its primitive con- 
dition ; a little thatch or a few cuts of turf form the roof ; a 
rude hole in this roof forms the chimney,- — and more fre- 
quently, there is no other issue for the smoke than the door of 
the dwelling itself. One solitary room holds father, mother, 
grandfather and children. No furniture is to be seen ; a single 
litter, usually composed of grass and straw, serves for the whole 
family. Five or six half naked children may be seen crouching 
over a poor fire. In the midst of them lies a filthy pig ; the 
only inhabitant at his ease, because his element is filth itself. 
The presence of the pig in the dwelling would at first sight 
look like a sign of misery; on the contrary, it is actually in- 
dicative of a certain degree of ease, and it is in the cabin where 
he is not, that the indigence is indeed extreme."* 

Into how many dwellings of this kind have we not pene- 
trated ourselves, : — especially in the Counties Kerry, Mayo, and 
Donegal, — more than once obliged to stoop down to the ground 
in order to penetrate into those cabins, the entrance to which 
is so low that they look more like burrows of beasts than dwel- 
lings made for man ! How often, too, after having in vain 
tried to stay in them a few minutes, have we been obliged to 
give up the task, driven out by the smoke which suffocated us ! 
In fine, how great was our astonishment to come in September 
1860, more than twenty years after the second journey of M. 
de Beaumont, upon the very destitution so eloquently described 
by him in 1839 ! 

When a tenant gets a strip of land to till, his first care is 
usually to build himself a cabin. Upon the road from Kil- 
larney to Grenagh, in the vicinity of those beautiful lakes 
which in a few months were to be visited by Queen Victoria, 
at the entrance of those parksj to which, for extent and rich- 
ness, neither England nor Scotland can probably offer anything 
equal, have we seen those dwellings. A few branches of trees 
interlaced and leaning upon the slope in the road, a few cuts of 
turf, and a few stones picked up in the fields, compose these 
wretched huts, — less spacious and perhaps less substantial than 
that of the American savage. 

In the County Mayo the dwellings of the peasantry are still 
more wretched, and especially more unhealthy. Built in the 

* Vol, I., p. 216. 

+ We speak principally of the immense estates of Lord Castlerosse [Lord 
Kenmare] and Colonel Herbert, who own the shores of the three lakes. 



midst of the bogs, and covered with pieces of turf of a dark 
colour, they can scarcely be distinguished from the rest of the 
bog in which they stand. To prevent the water from making its 
way into them is next to an impossibility. It enters from above 
and from below, and keeps the wretched cabin wet as long as 
the rain lasts. During storms, and when the west wind sweeps 
furiously over these desolate regions, the inhabitant of these 
bogs is to be seen actually putting a few heavy stones upon 
the roof, in order to prevent the gust from carrying away and 
scattering his only shelter.* 

In the peninsula of Erris the destitution is the same. The 
ruins upon which the traveller lights at every step attest that 
during the last ten years a large number of families have 
disappeared. As to the cabins which are still left standing, 
they are precisely what the German traveller Kohl, and the 
charitable agents of the Society of Friends, described them to 
be some fifteen years ago.f 

Scarcely two months ago, the correspondent of a Protestant 
Dublin paper, on a visit to these regions to enquire into the 
condition of the peasants made the following sketch of it, 
which is but the faithful echo and the reproduction of all the 
descriptions made within the last half century. 

The inhabitants of Erris, — says he, — appear to be the most 
wretched of all human beings. Their cabins, their patched 
and tattered clothes, their broken down gait,— every thing 
bears witness to their poverty. Their beds consist of a few 
bits of wood crossed one upon the other, supported by two 
heaps of stones, and covered with straw: their whole bed- 
clothes a miserable worn out quilt, without any blankets .... 
But there is nothing in Ireland like the habitations which the 
people of this village of Fallmore t have made for themselves, 
who have been evicted by Mr. Palmer. They are composed 
of masses of granite picked up on the shore and roughly laid 

* Road from Castlebar to Belmullet, by Crossmolina and Bangor. It would 
be difficult to find a wilder or more forbidding looking country, especially when 
seen during one of tbose formidable tempests which the winds and currents 
from America bring across to Europe. 

f " Let the traveller look where he is going, however, or he may make a 
false step, the earth may give way under his feet, and he may fall into — what? 
into an abyss ? a cavern? a bog? — No into a hut, — a human dwelling-place, 
whose existence he has overlooked because the roof on one side was level with 
the ground and nearly of the same consistency .... The wall of the bog. often 
forms two or three sides of it, whilst sods taken from the adjoining surface form 
the remainder, and cover the roof. Window there is none; chimneys are not 
known; an aperture in front, some three or four feet in height, serves the office 
of door, window, and chimney; — light, smoke, pigs, and children, all pass in and 
out by this aperture." — (James H. Tuke's Account — Society of Friends.) 

J The ruined village alluded to ante, p. 126. 


one by the other. These cabins are so low that a man cannot 
stand upright in them ; so narrow that they can hardly hold 
three or four persons. In endeavouring to make my way into 
one of these indescribable dwellings, I struck my head so 
rudely against a rock that I was obliged to give up my exami- 
nation of this new scene of destitution.* 



On the north-east coast of the Province of Ulster, in the 
County of Donegal, bounded on one side by a barrier of high 
mountains and on the other by the ocean whose waves are 
nearly always agitated by the tempest, there lives a population 
almost unknown to the rest of Ireland. As the traveller ad- 
vances into this country nothing meets his eye from afar but 
a desolate and mournfully monotonous region, Not a tree, not 
a green branch, not a meadow to rest the eye ; in every direc- 
tion nothing is to be seen but a gloomy desert of bog and 
mountain, nothing is heard night or day save the roaring of 
the waves. 

Gweedore is the name of this district ; which has in these 
latter times become so sadly renowned for the extraordinary 
sufferings of its inhabitants. 

A few years ago a large part of this region passed into the 
hands of new proprietors. Radical changes were effected in the 
land system ; and the population which had hitherto lived peace- 
fully and unknown behind its rugged hills was suddenly 
plunged into frightful distress. The clamour consequent 
upon this distress reached even Parliament, and there gave 

* Saunders 1 News Letters' Special Correspondent ; (Jan. 1862). In what do the 
terms of this description differ from those used twenty years ago by the Devon 
Commission to characterize the destitution of the agricultural classes ? ' ' The 
agricultural labourer of Ireland continues to suffer the greatest privations and 
hardships; he continues to depend upon casual and precarious employment for 
subsistence; he is still badly housed, badly fed, badly clothed, and badly paid 
for his labour. Our personal experience and observations during our inquiry 
Lave afforded us a melancholy confirmation of these statements; and we cannot 
forbear expressing our strong serise of the patient endurance which the labouring 
classes have generally exhibited under sufferings greater, we believe, than the 
people of any country in Europe have to sustain."— {Report of the Devon Com- 
mission; Dig. of Evid., II., 1116.) 


rise to an enquiry, the results of which fill an enormous Blue- 

Were the peasantry of Gweedore justified in complaining 
that contrary to an immemorial custom they had been inter- 
dicted from grazing their flocks upon the mountains, and that 
in consequence of this interdict they found it impossible for 
the future either to breed sheep or to pay their rent? Had 
not the proprietors, without exactly overstepping their legal 
rights, overlooked one of their gravest duties, by suddenly 
taking away from an entire population a means of subsistence 
without which the conditions of tenure were rendered much 
more difficult? And was it not true that some among those 
proprietors wished, by reducing them to extremities, to oblige 
them through fear and want to listen with docility to the 
instructions of Protestant ministers and Scripture Readers ?f 

These grave questions are not definitely resolved by the 
parliamentary enquiry of 1858. The saddest instance of 
oppression, the most guilty abuses of authority, and the most 
lamentable details of misery were revealed by the numerous 
witnesses who appeared successively before the Committee of 
the House of Commons. Yet, nevertheless, the committee 
adopted a report which came to no decision either in one way 
or the other ; it leaned if anything rather towards a justifica- 
tion of the landlords' conduct ; and we presume as satisfaction 
for the sufferings of the people of Gweedore it declared that 
" that population was not in a worse condition than usual !" 

Much might be said against such a conclusion. Those espe- 
cially would have a right to dispute its value who have taken 
the trouble to examine on the spot the results of the changes 
effected within the last five years in the system of tenures ; who 
have seen the superhuman efforts of the unfortunate peasantry 
to turn into productive land the strips of bog upon which their 
cabins are built; and who know that in 1858 and 1859 a large 
proportion of that population was obliged to emigrate to Austra- 
lia, and that nevertheless the lot of those who remain has nowise 
improved. Again, whether the destitution of Gweedore be of 
old or of recent date ; whether or not it be the result of a state 

* " Destitution [Gweedore and Cloghaneely) ; Report of the Select Committee : 
1858; No. 412." 

+ What is certain is that in 1838 there was not a single Protestant in the 
whole region ; and that a few years later a very pretty church was built at 
Dunlewey, and several houses put up in the neighbourhood for the use of the 
Bible Readers. Up to the present, however, the efforts made to bring the 
population over to a different way of thinking have proved a signal failure. 
With the exception of the Bible Readers, a few policemen, and a certain num- 
ber of Scotch Presbyterian farmers recently settled there, no Protestants are 
to be found in the county. 


of things independent of the ill-will of man or the merciless 
proceedings of proprietors with regard to their tenants ; it is 
not the less true that this destitution does exist, and to a » 
degree which the imagination is at pains to realize. We were 
under the impression after having visited Connemara and the 
peninsula of Erris that nothing more of this kind could sur- 
prise us ; it was however reserved for the district of Gweedore 
to exhibit to us under aspects entirely new and hitherto unirna- 
gined the utter distress of the Irish peasant. 

In visiting the cabins of these poor people, we were able to 
verify the exactness of details which we had read some months 
previously in a Protestant paper of Londonderry. 

There are in Donegal, — said this paper, — about four thou- 
sand adults, of both sexes, who are obliged to go bare-foot 
during the winter, in the ice and snow, — pregnant women 
and aged people in habitual danger of death from the cold. 
.... It is rare to find a man with a calico shirt ; but the dis- 
tress of the women is still greater, if that be possible. There 
are many hundreds of families in which five or six grown up 
women have among them no more than a single dress to go 
out in.* 

About three hundred families in this county, — adds the same 
journal, — have neither beds nor blankets, and are obliged to 
lie on rags collected during the day and heaped on the damp 
cold ground. There are about five hundred families who have 
but one bed, — in which fathers, mothers, and children, without 
distinction of age or sex, are crowded together pell-mell. 

In the cabins of the districts of Falcarragh, Derryveigh, 
and Gweedore, but only in those of the wealthiest among the 
peasants, we more than once saw a stall with a cow and a few 
pigs under the same roof with the family ; and the dampness of 
the cattle-straw, thus added, perhaps to correct and render it 
wholesome, to that of the bog. 

There also, as well as in the county Mayo, we learned the 
saddest and most authentic details concerning the food of the 
peasantry. When we went into a cabin at meal-time, we found 
the family seated round a disii of potatoes half spoiled and half 
raw; and upon enquiring why they rendered their food less 
wholesome by this insufficient cooking, they replied that the 
potato when half boiled had the advantage of being more 

* It frequently happens on Sundays that one member of the family after 
having heard Mass, returns home, takes off his clothes, and gives them to 
another, -who goes to hear the second Mass. M. de Beaumont had already 
stated this fact, which has been confirmed to us by the priests of this district. 
(See also the very interesting pamphlet published at Belfast, by Mr. Denis Hol- 
land, in 1859,—" The Landlords of Donegal ;" p. 70.) 


[book v. 

difficult of digestion, and consequently of allowing them to 
postpone for a few hours the second meal. 

We know also that in many coast districts the peasants were 
obliged to mix with their food wild herbs gathered among the 
rocks by the sea-shore :* it was again in the district of Gweedore 
that our eyes were destined to witness the use of the seaweeds. 
Stepping once into a cabin, in which there was no one but a 
little girl charged with the care of minding her younger 
brothers, and getting ready the evening meal, we found upon 
the fire a pot full of doulamauri\ ready cooked ; we asked to taste 
it, and some was handed to us in a little platter. 

This weed when well dressed produces a kind of viscous juice ; 
it has a brackish taste and savours strongly of the salt water. 
We were told, in the country, that the only use of this. weed 
is to increase when mixed with potatoes the mass of aliment 
given to the stomach. The longer and more difficult the work 
of the stomach, the less frequent are its calls. It is a kind of 
compromise with hunger ; the people are able neither to sup- 
press it nor to satisfy it ; they endeavour to cheat it. We have 
also been assured that this weed cannot be eaten alone ; it must 
be mixed with vegetables, since of itself it has no nutritive 
properties whatever.! 

All these sad details go to make up an amount of wretched- 
ness and destitution endured by a large portion of the agricul- 
tural class in Ireland, with which that of our poorest peasants 
in France will fortunately afford no comparison. We lived for 
a lengthened period in one of our departments justly considered 
as among the poorest and most backward, and in which by a 
kind of sordid economy the peasant feeds himself very badly. 
But what day labourer is to be found there who has not an 
abundant supply of hot bread soup, at least two and even three 
times a-day, — and with it sometimes vegetables dressed with 
butter, haricots, potatoes, or turnips, — milk porridge, and now 
and then eggs or fruit? Here, be it well understood, we 
speak simply of the peasant who buys his own food; farm 
labourers generally get more abundant and substantial fare ; 
the use of meat is becoming much more common among them ; 

* A Blue Booh stated this fact as early as 1836 : " Some are forced to seek 
their sustenance on wild herbs." 

| The name given to these algce. A peasant took advantage of the low water 
to gather me some handfulls, which I have brought back with me to France. 

X When the use of these weeds was adduced before the Parliamentary Com- 
mission of 1858, as an incontestable proof of the destitution of the country, a 
rich landlord whose mansion is situated by the seaside replied : "But my chil- 
dren eat it." Doubtless, my Lord, your children may take a fancy to taste a 
little doulamaun after leaving your well-served table ; but would you consent 
to give them that and bad potatoes for their daily food ? 

CHAP. V.] 


and without deviating from traditional sobriety, the French 
peasant has at the worst of times wherewith to- satisfy the 
-cravings of hunger without being obliged to clog his stomach 
with unwholesome food. 

After having seen and touched these details of the destitu- 
tion of the Irish peasant — which is, as upon these data we 
insist, not that of 1839, but that of 1860, 1861, and 1862— 
we are not astonished to find a Protestant writer, the historian 
Alison, declaring that slaves, who have masters interested in 
feeding them well, are less unfortunate than the free and 
starving Irishman ;* and Cochrane, who holds the Irish respon- 
sible for their misery, declaring that the day would be a happy 
one for the Irish peasantry, the slaves of their carelessness and 
their wild passions, when they might exchange their condition 
for that of the Siberian convicts, subject to the less crushing 
yoke of despotism and the knout.f 

It is not a Catholic writer that casts at England the scorch- 
ing reproach implied in his envying for the population of a 
country governed by her the sceptre of the Czar; these are 
two Protestant publicists, full of prejudice and rancour against 
the country whose sufferings they describe. How is it, then, 
that the government, which for the last few years has been 
assuming the part of cosmopolitan protector of injured rights 
and the accredited avenger of all injustice, does not pay more 
attention to so lamentable a state of things? Why does that 
government compel her most devoted friends and least sus- 
pected partisans to tell her, upon this subject, such blighting 
truths ? When will the traveller be able to visit those remote 
parts of Ireland without leaving them under the conviction 
that they are the victims of a great social crime ?J When, as 
Earl Grev said in the House of Lords, will these evils cease to 
be chronic and habitual ?§ 


PARTIAL FAMINES OF 1860, 1861, 1862. 

Nothing better justifies the words of Earl Grey, uttered 
though they were nineteen years ago, than the latest trials 

* " It would be a real blessing to tlie inhabitants of Ireland in lieu of the 
destitution of freedom to obtain the protection of slavery," — (Alison ; Hist, of 
Europe, Vol ix. p. 11.) 

+ Cochrane' s Travels in Russia and Siberia; p. 79, 190. 

J Expressions of Mr. Bright already quoted, ante, page 126. 

§ " The evils of that unhappy country are not accidental, but chronic and 
habitual !" — {Hansard's Parliamentary Debates ; Vol. lxxxiv. p. 1345.) 

288 DESTITUTION. [book y 

from scarcity or famine through which Ireland has passed, 
and which she is still suffering at the very moment when this 
book is about to make them known to the continental public* 

On the 17th of April, 1860, an Irish member of the House 
of Commons asked the Government " what measures it pur- 
posed taking in reference to the great destitution which then 
prevailed amongst the peasants and the labouring classes in the 
West of Ireland ?" The Secretary of State for Ireland replied 
that : " it was his painful duty to state that a large amount of 
destitution did in fact exist in some of the western districts."! 

The papers of this period were full of the most harrowing 
details. It was already known from the agricultural statis- 
tics of 1859 that the harvest of 1859 as compared with that 
of 1858 presented a large falling off, and that potatoes in 
particular had yielded but five-sixths of the average crop ; in 
other words that the population were short of two months' 
food. Hence they were obliged to dole out and measure their 
fare as though on board a ship short of pro visions. £ 

The cold and rainy spring weather soon verified the fears 
inspired by the preceding autumn; and many districts of 
Munster and Connacht were visited by cruel scarcity. 

At the end of March 3 860 it was stated in a letter from 
Killarney, (Co. Kerry, Munster) : — We have here an amount of 
destitution which can only be compared to that of 1846. — The 
Society of St. Vincent de Paul, and private charity, have 
exhausted their resources ; the inclemency of the season and the 
extreme scarcity of fuel add to the amount of suffering from 
hunger. — The labourers, without fire, without clothes, and with- 
out food, are obliged to swarm into the Workhouses. § 

A few days afterwards a Mayo newspaper announced that 
in the Barony of Erris, out of 20,000 inhabitants 10,000 were 
suffering cruelly from hunger. \\ 

The Workhouses of the neighbourhood, — added another 
local paper, — are more full than ever they w T ere during the 
Famine ; and notwithstanding this one cannot walk a step in 

* Spring of 1862. 

+ He added : that he had every reason to believe that the ordinary resources 
of public relief would for the time suffice, and that in any case he was not for 
the moment prepared to hold out a hope of any other intervention. This answer 
reminds us of the one made by Lord Heytesbury, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, at 
the beginning of the great famine of 1846, to a deputation headed by O'Connell: 
"The step is premature, — said the representative of the Queen, — there is no 
reason for alarm ; some scientific gentlemen are coming over from England to 
make an enquiry. Let us wait !" 

J "... . The decrease of this important crop is equal to two months' supply, 
or one-sixth of what would be necessary to afford the whole Irish their average consump- 
tion for one year " — (Agricultural Statistics, Ireland, 1860.) 

§ Evening. News, 2 Ap. 1860. || Mayo Constitution, Ap. 1860. 

CHAP. V.] 


Ballina without being attacked by crowds of beggars. How 
many families in the villages of this district are reduced to 
boiled roots without salt, for all their food, and not enough 
even of that.* 

Again : The cattle are dying of inanition ; because the first 
spring grass has entirely failed, and hay has risen to an exor- 
bitant price.f 

And : In some parts of the Counties of Limerick and Tip- 
perary the potatoes first planted have failed, because of the 
cold and wet, and the farmers have been obliged to sow more.J 

So, the cattle were dying off from the severity of the weather 
and for want of herbage ; the potato crop was insufficient ; 
food of primary necessity was so dear in all the markets that 
the poor could not afford to buy it ; and even in the most easily 
circumstanced families daily wants could only be met by the 
ruinous system of borrowing^ 

At the same time, a meeting was held at Belmullet, with the 
Protestant minister in the chair and the Catholic parish priest 
in the vice chair, to take into consideration the means necessarv 
to procure the aid immediately required by these ten thousand 
persons suffering cruelly from hunger. Before breaking up this 
meeting, nearly all composed of either magistrates or landlords, 
signed a petition addressed to the Lord Lieutenant begging 
him to counteract these extraordinary evils by prompt and 
efficacious measures. || During the whole period of scarcity, 
that is until the end of June, the Relief Committee met regu- 
larly, organised and pushed forward subscriptions over all 
Ireland, and had the satisfaction of being able to mitigate as 
far as possible the worst of the destitution prevalent in this 
peninsula of Belmullet. 

It was not the agricultural labourers and the ordinarily poor 
peasants alone who were reduced to all kinds of suffering; the 
small farmers themselves, suddenly deprived of their ordinary 
resources and without funds to meet the pressing necessities 
of the moment, were reduced to the same distress.^ 

Absolute want of everything, both food and seed: such was, 

* Tyrawley Herald, Ap. I860. f Daily Express, Ap» 1860. 

% Limerick Examiner, Ap. 18t30. 

§ Galway Vindicator; Castlebar Telegraph; April 1860. All these details are 
confirmed iu an official correspondence inserted in the last Report of the Poor 
Law Commissioners ; (1861 ; p. 30-66). 

|| "Meeting held in the Courthouse of Belmullet on the 16th of March."— 
(The petitition is quoted in the last Report of the Poor Law Commissioners ; 
1861; p. 32.) 

H Report of Mr. Bourke, Poor Law Inspector, dated March 6th, 1860 
(14th Gen. Rep. of the Poor Law Com. ; p. 30.) 

290 DESTITUTION. j" B00K Vi 

according to the Report of a government agent, their situation 
during the spring of 1860. Moreover a certain number of 
families, who might have gone to the Workhouse, refused to 
do so ; because they would have been obliged to give up their 
holdings, and to remain paupers for the rest of their lives. In 
fine, as a contrast to those landlords who with generous zeal 
came to the succour of the starving families, there were others 
who pretended to ignore the excess of this destitution, yet on 
whose estates it attained the most lamentable proportions.* 

Almost immediately fevers, dysenteries, and other diseases 
of the bowels and stomach, the result of privation and of the 
unwholesome food which many families were forced to eat, 
invaded the district.f 

No extraordinary measures were however taken by govern- 
ment to meet this extraordinary destitution. The Poor Law 
Guardians were simply authorized to give a larger amount of 
out-door relief, and not to insist upon the law % by virtue of 
which public charity is refused to any one holding a quarter of 
an acre of land. If however the committee formed by the zeal 
of the Catholic parish priest and of the Protestant minister of 
Belmullet had not supported during more than three months 
nearly nine hundred families, we may affirm that the barony 
of Erris would have witnessed the renewal of the same scenes 
of despair and death of which it was the theatre fifteen years 

The summer and autumn of 1860 were, as is well known, 
but a kind of perpetual inundation. The geographical position 
of Ireland makes it an habitually rainy and damp country ; but 
this year the west winds, which never ceased blowing, brought 
with them fresh mountains of clouds, and almost daily rain. 
In the middle of October the hay which is usually gathered in 
the month of August was still to be seen in the meadows ; a 
large portion of the harvest was lost; and the continual drench- 
ing of the soil spoiled the potato crop in several counties. This 
unfortunate circumstance which in any other country produces 

* " Many families there are, I believe, utterly without means They 

know that if they surrender them, and go into the Workhouse, they become 

paupers fur life ; and in many cases they will die sooner than adopt such a course 

There are proprietors who chose to ignore the distress." — (Report from Mr. 
Bonrke, Poor Law Inspector, to the Commissioners ; Ballina, May 3, 1860.) — ■ 
(14th Gen. Rip. p. 39.) 

■j" "Induced by the unwholesome garbage that the people eat." — (Letter of 
Mr. Jackson, Protestaut minister of Belmullet, to the Poor Law Commis- 
sioners ; 14th Gen. Report; p. 46.) 

J What is called the Quarter Acre Clause, [repealed only in the present year], 
of which more in the following Book. 

§ See the Reports of the Society of Friends during the Famine of 1847 ; 
before referred to. 


but momentary discomfort, always in Ireland threatens the 
most frightful consequences. 

It is indeed readily to be understood how a people accus- 
tomed to the use of meat can in times of distress do without 
it, and live upon vegetables ; and if the causeof distress continue, 
it can at a pinch put up even with bread though of an inferior 
quality. We have, even very lately, passed through similar 
crises in France. They certainly entail a large amount of 
suffering among the peasantry; but they do not necessarily 
imply a sentence of death upon them. 

In Ireland the case cannot be so. As soon as the potato crop 
is threatened the alarm becomes general. In the month of 
October 1860 it was the Poor Law Commissioners themselves 
who in a circular sent by them to all the Unions expressed the 
fears entertained for the winter on account of the bad harvest. 
Full of foresight and wisdom this circular recommended the 
Guardians to take timely measures to meet an exceptional 
amount of destitution during the winter of lt'60-1861. This 
destitution was unhesitatingly attributed by the Commissioners 
to the state of the potato crop.* 

These fears were anything but chimerical. During the 
winter of 1861, notwithstanding the precautions taken by the 
Poor Law Administration, many districts suffered from this 
plague of famine which has as it were become naturalized in 
Ireland, and which stubbornly defies all the progress of modern 

On the 14th of January 1861, a large meeting was held at 
Drogheda, (county Louth and Meath) at which the Mayor took 
the chair. The object of the meeting was to take extraordinary 
measures, and to" make a pressing appeal to the wealthy in 
favour of the poor crowded in the suburbs of the town, and 
who in the unwholesome cots where they were huddled together 
■were in absolute want of everything, and actually exposed to 
die of hunger. f 

In February and March an appeal to public charity had to 
be made in favour of the fishermen of the Claddagh, a little 

* "That the present extent of the Workhouse accommodation will be found 
equal to any emergency which is likely to arise from a failure of the potato 
crop, in the present or in future seasons." — (14th Gen. Rep. of the P. L. Com. — 
Circular to Boards of Guardians, 6 Oct.' 1860, p. 27.) 

t " The object of the meeting was to raise subscriptions for the purpose of 
purchasing meal ; . . . . and to appoint a committee, whose duty it would be 
to visit the haunts or homes of the destitute." — The Mayor, Mr. John Moore, 
spoke with energy of "the vast amount of distress and destitution at present 
prevailing in the town and suburbs." — Alderman James Mathews urged the 
meeting to resolve promptly to take efficacious measures: " the Relief List 
was re-opened because the destitution had increased ten-fold. There was not 
a moment to be lost, as the people were starving." 


[book y. 

village hard by the port and town of Galway.* A subscrip- 
tion committee had been formed under the presidentship of 
the Bishop of Galway, Dr. Mac Evilly. This population of 
the Claddagh, numbering about 5,000 souls, was reduced to 
the last extremity of distress. Neither the aid of the public 
administration, nor the generous donations of a private cha- 
rity, were able to prevent great sufferings; the destitution 
was both too radical and too general.f And it was not 
in Ireland alone that this " cry of anguish" from the West 
was heard. As at this same time the unfortunate Partry 
tenants evicted by the Protestant Bishop of Tuam were re- 
duced to absolute destitution, it was determined to invoke in 
favour of so much suffering the charity of Catholic France, 
and to appeal to sympathies to which Ireland never appealed 
in vain in the days of her trial. It was assuredly a happiness 
and a glory to the interesting cause of Irish destitution to 
find for its mouthpiece a bishop in whom the zeal and charity 
of the Catholic Church seem to be personified. The indefa- 
tigable champion of unredressed wrong, the unflinchino- 
adversary of triumphant injustice, Monseigneur Dupanloup, 
the illustrious Bishop of Orleans, laid aside for a moment the 
pen which had just defended with such power the cause of the 
Holy See, to ascend the pulpit of St. Roch, and in the thrilling 
accents of an eloquence destined to go the round of the world 
drew tears from the eyes and abundant alms from the hands 
of his immense audience.^ 

* As to the population of the Claddagh, — whose manners are extremely 
singular, and who form a kind of separate tribe, which will not mingle with 
the surrounding population, — see Black's Picturesque Tourist of Ireland, p. 227 ; — 
the Travels already quoted of the German, Rodenberg, " The Island of the 
Saints" (ch. xiii. p. 242) ; — and the magnificent illustrated collection entitled 
The Scenery and Antiquities of Ireland, by Th. Bartlett ; (vol. ii. p. 64.) 

t At the beginning of March, a Galway physician, Dr. Colahan, lectured at 
the hospital on famine-fever, and described the horrible sufferings which 
had preceded the death of a poor Claddagh fisherman brought to the hospital 
in a state of complete inanition. (See a fragment of this lecture in the Galway 
Vindicator, quoted by the Dublin Evening News of March 14th, 1861.) 

% Sermon at St. Roch, March 25th, 1861. An English paper analysed and 
violently attacked this discourse a week before it was uttered ! The Protestant 
Bishop of Tuam, Lord Plunket, even wrote on the 12th of March to Lord 
Cowley, the English Ambassador at Paris, to protest against the signal falsehoods 
of which the sermon at St. Roch was to be composed ! Lord Plunket's letter 
having been inserted in the Journal des JDebats of March the 22nd, Mgr. the 
Bishop of Orleans sent on the morrow, to the same paper, an answer to these 
preventive accusations: "I hand over by anticipation," said the eminent 
prelate, " my sermon to the criticism of Lord Plunket as soon as it shall have 
-passed my lips ; but, although much accustomed to discussions, I now for the 
first time see an answer to words which have not yet been uttered. Lord 
Plunket does not contest the fact of there being poor in Ireland. This is a 
sufficient reason for me to invoke charity in their favour." (These letters are 
inserted in the Appendix to the printed edition ef the Sermon of Mgr. Dupan- 
loup ; pages 64 and 65. ) 


In the month of April it was the weavers of one of the 
suburbs of Belfast, (Ballymacarret,) who on account of the 
clearness of provisions and the smallness of their wages were 
commended by a Protestant paper (the Northern Whig) to the 
attention of the charitable of that wealthy and industrious city.* 

It will be admitted that amidst the unvaried repetition of 
these scenes of destitution, and of these appeals to public 
charity, it was scarcely the moment to choose for the announce- 
ment that Ireland was now " prosperous, rich, and powerful. "f 

But Queen Victoria was just then preparing to make a short 
visit to Ireland. It was of importance that she should be 
persuaded that nothing remained to be done but to thank heaven 
for having showered down on that country, formerly so 
unhappy, such visible and precious blessings. The Morning 
Post and the Times, in the name of the English people, united 
their powerful voices to extol the " prosperity of Ireland. "| 

A few weeks after the Queen's visit to Killarney, whilst the 
echo of the shout of triumph set up by the ministerial papers 
at Ireland's prosperity was still heard, the cry of alarm again 
resounded ; the West of Ireland was stricken by partial 
famine. Whilst in France we were enjoying a summer and 
autumn exceptionally fine and warm, in Ireland constant rain 
had drowned the crops. As early as the beginning of Octo- 
ber the Dublin, London, and Paris papers told their readers 
that fresh sufferings threatened the rural populations of Mun- 
ster and Connacht. 

On the 6th of October, at Kilmovee, in the County Mayo, 
a meeting presided over by the archdeacon the Rev. J. Coghlan^ 

* Meeting held April 27th, 1861. 

f Times, quoted in Evening News of Aug. 14th, 1861. 

J In the "humourous" style, familiar to the English, the Times pleasantly 
compared Ireland to a lady who draws first upon her husband's fortune, and 
has besides for the exigencies of her toilette a private fund ; consequently she 
ought to be more grateful to worthy John Bull, who so strongly blames the 
severity of his fathers, and spares neither care nor trouble for the happiness of 
Ireland, his dear spouse. Let it not be imagined that we put into the mouth of 
the English journal pleasantry of such questionable taste. " What's yours is 
mine, but what's mine is my own, is the language of our Irish spouse," — (we 
quote the very words of the article in the Jmesabove referred to.) . . " Like 
the well-bred husband who gives his tacit consent to the above-quoted uxorial 
dogma, we are quite content that it should be so. But we ought to have the 
credit of being the well-bred husband. At the five o'clock tea time,, or during 
the short absence of the gentlemen after dinner, Ireland, when she ruffles in her 
finery and glances at her jewels, might say how comfortable she is at home [!], and 
might put in a fair word for John Bull, who has repented of the harshness of 
bis forefathers, and spares no pains to make her smart and respected.'* [ ! ! !] 

The Morning Post was more serious without being more sincere. In an 
article of the 13th of Nov., the Morning Star carefully rectified these impu- 
dent assertions, and did not fear to say that: "at present the sitter island 
is held as a conquered country ; the mass of the people are treated as an inferior caste." 

294 DESTITUTION. [ B00K v 

unanimously voted the adoption of the following declarations 
and resolutions : 

1°. Five sixths of the potato crop, the principal food of the 
people of this parish and district, have been destroyed by the 
disease and the recent inundations. 

2°, If all the wheat harvested in this mountain parish were 
turned into flour, it would not suffice to feed the population, 
comprising 6,000 souls, two months. 

3°. If government do not immediately open public works, 
with wages sufficient to allow the people to buy food, they 
will die of hunger. 

4°. These resolutions to be respectfully submitted to his 
Excellency the Lord Lieutenant, and to the Secretary of State 
for Ireland, in order that in the name of humanity they may 
ask government to take immediate steps to ward off such' 
lamentable evils. 

In a public letter addressed to Lord Palmerston, the Lord 
Archbishop of Tuam called the attention of the minister to 
the scarcity which threatened the whole western region, the 
sufferings of which portion of the country would be aggra- 
vated by a total want of firing, the turf either not having been 
able to be got on account of the great rains or not having dried. 

Connemara (from Galway to Clif den) was in no less critical 
a situation;* and it soon got abroad that a large part of the 
province of Connacht was menaced with a real famine. At a 
meeting held at Castlebar, on the 26th of October, Resolutions 
were passed similar to those of the Kilmovee meeting, which 
testified to similar disasters. Three days afterwards another 
meeting was held for the same object in the County Ros- 

At the outset of this new trial the Times again attempted to 
lead off in its old strain, and to prove that Ireland was not 
only on the high road to prosperity, but in the way to become 
rich 'X and certain Dublin papers affected to treat with indif- 
ference the dark news which came from the West.§ 

The continuation of this ignoble farce soon became impos- 
sible. The Secretary of State for Ireland, Sir Robert Peel, 
set out himself on a visit to the most severely tried counties 

* Galway Vindicator, quoted in the Evening News of October 18, 1861 ; Reso- 
lutions of the Clifden meeting, October 23, 1861. 

*T Meeting of the parish of Dysart and Tonghboy. 

X " Ireland is now on the high road to prosperity, if not to great wealth." — 
(Times, 23rd Oct.) 

§ " If the winter, as some apprehend, proves a trying one in Ireland, the 
circumstance will in no way reduce the significance of the statement that Ire- 
land is steadily progressing in prosperity." — [!] — (Packet, quoted in the News of 
10th Oct.) 

CHAP. V.] 


of the West, in order to judge in person of the extent of the 

The journey of the Secretary from Gal way, to which he 
had gone by rail, through the most destitute provinces of the 
West, and thence to Sligo, took up only three days.* He 
made a speech in the latter city, in which he dwelt princi- 
pally upon the remarkable progress made by agriculture in 
Ireland within the last few years, and gave but scanty details 
of the destitution which had been the object of his journey.f 

On his return to Dublin he wrote to the corporation of that 
city to say that government was thoroughly well informed as 
to the real state of things, and that according to the reports 
handed in from different parts of Ireland the ordinary re- 
sources of the Poor Law would suffice to meet the eventuality 
of scarcity.! It would certainly be difficult to treat a graver 
question more lightly ; and even the English press itself allowed 
that such conduct was not calculated to gain the confidence of 
the Irish people.§ 

After this journey of Sir R. Peel, appeals to public charity 
were multiplied in December 1861 and January 1862 in 
favour of the poor populations of the West. The neces- 
sities brought to light are always the same ; cruel priva- 
tions arising from want of food and firing.|| Several cases 

* According to his own admission Sir Robert Peel travelled a hundred miles 
a day on an outside car. — That is sufficient of itself to give us an idea of the 
seriousness of his enquiry into the state of the country ! 

T " . . . . After having traversed a very extensive range of country within the last 

three days, about three hundred miles on an outside car As I have stated, 

I have gone over a large tract of. country, and I must say it is with extreme 
gratification that I have seen during my route the evident progress which is 
influencing the agricultural interests, in general, of this part of the country." — 
(Speech of Sir Robert Peel to the Corporation of Sligo, 9th Nov. 1861.) 

X Letter of Sir Robert Peel to the Secretary of the Corporation ; Dec. 7th, 1861 . 

§ See an article of the Daily News, (quoted by the Dublin News of Nov. 23) : 
" What is to be said of a minister of the crown who cannot resist the temptation 
of denouncing as wholesale imposture the cry of an unhappy people for firing 
and food, and who does not seem conscious of the absurdity of asserting that 
by his three days' tour in Connacht he had obtained full and sufficient infor- 
mation on the matter?" 

|| Meeting of the Deanery of Ballinrobe, Nov. 18, 1861 ; and petition 
addressed by the committee to the Lord Lieutenant. 

On the same day, meeting for the same object at Tuam. 

On the 13th of December, meeting at Skibbereen (county Cork), presided 
over by Bishop O'Hea ; and petition addressed to the Lord Lieutenant to ask 
for the organization of public works in the district. 

On the same day meetings at Gal way presided over by the High Sheriff; 
and at Loughrea, by Bishop Derry. The Marquis of Clanricarde, Lord 
Lieutenant of the county G-alway, assisted at this meeting, and warmly pleaded 
the cause of the unfortunate inhabitants. 

December 26th, meeting at Belmullet, and petition to the Lord Lieutenant. 

January 4th, 1862, meeting at Ballinasloe (Galway and Roscommon) ; out 
of 3,500 inhabitants, 1,700 absolutely destitute. 

Jan. 31st, meeting at Athenry ; presided over by Stephen Roche, Esq., J. P. 


[BOOK v. 

of death from hunger, even, were proved at coroner's in- 

Notwithstanding official assurances intended to calm it, public 
opinion was greatly moved. A paper which as a rule does not 
over trust Catholic bishops and priests, and frequently accuses 
them of fomenting discontent and disaffection among the 
people, added its testimony to that of the provincial journals 
and bitterly upbraided Sir Robt. Peel with having travelled so 
hurriedly and having been so superficial in his inquiry, so 
positive in his judgments, and so far from the truth in his 

On the 26th of November, on the motion of Mr. Peter Paul 
MacSwiney, a member of the municipal council and one of the 
most respected commercial men of Dublin, the Corporation 
held an extraordinary meeting in order to deliberate upon the 
course to be taken in presence of the sufferings of the West of 

Two Resolutions were unanimously adopted by the Corpo- 

In the first they expressed a wish that immediate steps should 
be taken to avert the danger to which thousands of the poor 
were exposed ; and they determined on forwarding a petition 
to the Lord Lieutenant asking for the promotion of public 
works in order to give the unfortunate people the means of 
buying food. 

The second resolution consisted of a request to the Lord 
Mayor desiring of him to form a permanent committee 
authorized to receive all information proper to make known 
the progress of the famine 4 

* One of these cases is quoted in the Report of the Extraordinary Meeting of 
the Dublin Corporation, held on the 26th of November, 1861. On the 30th of 
January, 1862, a similar case was proved before the coroner at Athlone : " A 
verdict was returned that deceased died from want and exposure to cold." — 
(Dublin News, of Feb. 1st, 1862.) 

t The Irish Times of Nov. 28th, 1861 (quoted by the News of the 29th.) 

X "1- That as death from starvation has resulted from the distress which 
now unhappily afflicts several districts of our country, it is the opinion of this 
Council that immediate steps should be taken to avert the danger to which the 
lives of thousands of our struggling poor are exposed by the double visita- 
tion of a scarcity of food and a scarcity of fuel. It is therefore .Resolved, 
that a Memorial be forwarded to the government with a view to the 
obtaining of such aid, through the promoting of useful public works or other- 
wise, as the necessity of the case may require." — (Moved by Mr. Peter Paul 

" 2. That in order to give the greatest practical force to the well-founded 
opinions on which we have adopted the Resolution to present a Memorial to 
the government in reference to the present state of the country, the Lord 
Mayor be requested to take the initiative in forming a Mansion House Com- 
mittee, and to invite the co-operation of the leading citizens and the public 
generally, with a view to watch the progress of events, to open correspondence 

CHAP. V.] 


The solemnity of this deliberation, the striking accord which 
prevailed for the adoption of these measures among men 
frequently divided upon other questions, the news which came 
in every day of still greater sufferings in the West and South 
of Ireland, all this gave people reason to hope that government 
would take into consideration requests of such gravity founded 
upon wants so urgent. 

The deputation of the Corporation by whom the petition 
was drawn up were received by the Lord Lieutenant on the 
28th of December, and treated with all the courtesy and kind- 
liness which characterize all the proceedings of Lord Carlisle. 

The Lord Lieutenant's answer, however, in nowise answered 
the expectations of the deputation. He confined himself to 
congratulating the petitioners on their sympathy for their 
fellow-citizens " who were less happily situated [ !] ;" praised the 
conduct of landlords who had given to the neighbouring 
poor wood or coal; and said that he did not doubt that if the 
progress of the famine called for any considerable aid, private 
charity, never appealed to in vain, would abundantly meet the 

A few days later,f another deputation, headed by the Ca- 
tholic bishop of Elphin, Dr. Gillooly, and a member of Parlia- 
ment, the O' Conor Donn, waited upon the Lord Lieutenant in 
order to call the attention of government to the deplorable 
situation of the agricultural classes in the Counties of Sligo, 
Leitrim, and Roscommon. 

All these steps remained however absolutely fruitless ; and 
whilst in America^ meetings were held, and subscriptions 

with reliable sources of information in the country, communicate the results to 
and if requisite stimulate : the action of the authorities, and to receive and 
allocate such donations from private benevolence as the ascertained state of 
distress may suggest and elicit." — (Moved by Dr. Gray.) 

* The following is the text of Lord Carlisle's answer: — "My Lord Mayor 
and Gentlemen — It must be always pleasing to find any portion of the commu- 
nity sympathising with the wants and privations of their less happily situated 
brethren. The condition of the poor has, without doubt, been unfavourably 
influenced by the general character of the weather in the year we are just 
closing. It continues to engage the watchful attention of the government. 
"With respect to the article of fuel, to which you have prominently adverted, I 
am happy to find that in some of the cases which the law of the realm espe- 
cially devised for the relief of public distress may have failed to meet, the 
liberality of the proprietors of the soil and the wealthier classes in the respective 
neighbourhoods has been called forth with a view to increase and distribute the 
supply of this essential requisite ; and I cannot doubt that if unhappily further 
exertions may become necessary, the initiative of relief, at least, will be taken 
by that generous public whose benevolence and generosity have been seldom 
invoked in vain." 

t 16th Jan., 1862. 

% Meetings at Buffalo, (31 Dec. 1861) ; at Kingston, (18 Jan. 1862) ; at 
Montreal, (20 Jan.) ; at Perth, (Canada), (26 Jan.). 

298 DESTITUTION. [ B00K y 

organized, to send over to the inhabitants of the Western coun- 
ties wherewith to buy food and firing, the representatives of 
the English government in Ireland seemed the only persons 
unmoved in the midst of these misfortunes. The Poor Rate 
and Workhouse Relief appeared to them with private charity 
more than sufficient to pass through so painful a crisis without 

It is however easy to understand the embarrassment of these 
functionaries. To admit that Ireland continues to be visited 
by periodical famine, and that in spite of the undoubted pro- 
gress made during the last ten years coroners juries are still 
called upon to return verdicts of death from hunger, would 
be, unless we are gravely mistaken, to give the lie with the 
same mouth which uttered them to all those speeches so en- 
tirely devoted to the production of a picture of Irish prosperity. 

We cannot, then, be surprised at what was said upon this 
point in Parliament the day after the opening of the Session of 
1862. On the discussion of the address, or rather that part of 
the Queen's Speech in which mention was made of the " gene- 
rally prosperous and satisfactory state of the country," Mr. 
Maguire asked the Secretary of State for Ireland if the govern- 
ment intended to take any steps and what in favour of the 
Western counties of Ireland suffering, at that moment under an 
exceptional amount of destitution. 

In the spring of 1860, Mr. Card well did not think it a be- 
trayal of the interests of English policy to announce to the 
House of Commons that several districts of Munster and Con- 
nacht were suffering from scarcity. His successor considered 
it more skilful to deny the facts to which the attention of Par- 
liament was called. In his reply to Mr. Maguire Sir R. Peel 
affirmed that there was nothing extraordinary in the situation 
of Ireland ; he accused the details entered into by the member 
for Dungarvan of great exaggeration ; and he even went so 
far as to affirm that nothing was more distasteful to the feelings 
of the Irish people than to have purely imaginary sufferings 
paraded before Europe, and that for his own part, he protested 
indignantly against such proceedings. [! ! ]* 

In vain, then, has Ireland, during eighteen months, after two 
exceptionally bad seasons and scanty harvests, called attention 
to her misfortunes on the part of that government which has 
assumed the mission of conquering her, of civilizing her, and of 
leading her by the hand in the way of progress ! 

In vain do official documents join their impartial testimony 

* "The case was greatly exaggerated. He protested indignantly [!] at the 
imaginary sufferings [! !] of Ireland being paraded before Europe, as most distasteful 
to the feelings of the Irish people." — (Ho. of Com,, Feb. 6; 1862.) 

CHAP. V.] 


to the more clamorous demands of the press* in attestation 
of these sufferings; all the facts are either stoutly denied, or 
put down as factious agitation, the aim of which is only to 
perplex the government; Ireland is pretending to be hungry 
and cold in order to oppose Lord Palmerston; and just as 
other people put up barricades, so she covers herself with rags 
in order to rouse Europe against the equitable and paternal 
rule which she enjoys ! 

We feel more at ease, we confess, in qualifying as it deserves 
this method of public discussion, since it has been used by 
the same ministers in widely different circumstances where even 
graver interests were at stake, and since eminent publicists 
have already held it up to the indignation of Christian and 
liberal Europe. 

Thanks to the able work of M. Saint-Marc Girardin upon 
Syria, it has become matter of history, that in order to be able 
to carry out without difficulty the selfish traditions of English 
policy in the East, the present cabinet attempted to persuade 
parliament and Europe of that which by the confidential re- 
ports of British consuls and British agents it knew to be con- 
trary to the truth. 

There was not one of these reports which did not complain 
of the weakness or ill-will of the Turkish administration ; and 
yet English ministers incessantly repeated that the Turkish 
government was able to guarantee the safety of the Eastern 
Christians ; that it had the will and the power to do so,f 

This was then the watchword given by Lord Palmerston to 
public opinion in England. The British agents told the truth 
concerning the East to the minister; and it was the minister 
that deliberately lied to England and to Europe, because he 
entertained a policy with regard to the East that was obstinate 
and stationary.} And this at the very moment when, before 
their eyes, and frequently with the connivance of the Turks, 
the Christians of Syria were butchered by thousands. ! 

But lately taken into the Palmerston cabinet, Sir R. Peel 
has proved himself but worthy to serve under such a chief. 
It would be impossible to evince greater disdain for what is 
evident, or greater contempt for truth ; it would be impossible 
to sacrifice it more unscrupulously. 

On one side stood facts; on the other English interests in 
Ireland: there w r as to boot the public opinion of England and 
the Continent. Now the watchword was to be given to this 

* See Blue Books of the Poor Law Commission for 1859, 1860, 1861. 

t M. Saint-Marc Girardin : La Syrie era 1861 ; p. 323. 

X La Syne en 1861 : p. 267. (See also pages 46, 47, 49, 52, 263—266 ; and 289.) 


opinion in order to further these interests: consequently, without 
any hesitation facts were either denied or suppressed. 

If it be an inexorable law of politics and diplomacy not to 
tell the truth, when truth and the interest of the moment do 
not tally, we cannot blame Sir R. Peel for obeying a fatal 
necessity. We shall confine ourselves to putting him in pos- 
session of a logical deduction from the language used by him 
on the 6th of February, 1862, when he qualified the sufferings 
of Ireland as imaginary, and the accounts given of them as 

How then! those honorable men of every political party 
and every shade of religious opinion who for the last four 
months have been organizing subscriptions in Ireland and 
Canada; those bishops and priests who have invoked the soli- 
citude of the rich in favour of their destitute people;* all 
those papers, English and Irish, Catholic and Protestant, Whig, 
Tory and Liberal, which have repeated the cry of alarm borne 
across from the mountains of the West; those Englishmen 
at once wealthy and generous, who so eagerly subscribed to 
meet the most urgent wants of the poor people of Connachtf 
— have they all but lied ? ! Is then the English government 
here also but the victim of a disloyal conspiracy against its 
honor, which hopes to deceive Europe by parading before it 
armies of ragged barefooted beggars ? ! and notwithstanding 
all this evidence, in despite of its astonishing unanimitv, is 
one word from the lips of Sir Robert Peel sufficient to trans- 
form all that into a chimera, and to assure public opinion that 
it is nothing but the manoeuvre of a vanquished and discontented 
faction ? ! 

What man of common sense will you persuade to credit 
such revolting absurdity ? and what does English honor gain in 
these hopeless struggles against truth, humanity, and justice? 
How is it possible to dream of long blinding public opinion, in 
the face of publicity such as that of the present day, especially 
in England? 

We are not going to pit Irish authorities against the astound- 
ing assertions of Sir R. Peel ; he would reject them as animated 
against him with hostile prejudices and irreclaimable unfair- 
ness. We shall therefore not tell him that ten days after the 
above mentioned parliamentary debate, at a great meeting 
presided at by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, details the most 
harrowing, and of well-established authenticity, of the increase 

* Pastoral Letters of several of the Bishops, January and February, 1862. — 
Speech of the Archbishop of Dublin, 17th Feb. 

*r At the head of one of these lists we read, the name of Lord Petre, an 
English nobleman of Essex, for £100. 

CHAP. V.] 


of destitution in the West were brought before the public ;* 
nor that at the present moment (May 1862) appeals to private 
charity t are still more numerous than during the winter ; nor 
finally that the letters coming from those desolated regions, 
written by men the most respectable and trustworthy, have 
already confirmed all that was known of the sad situation of 
the agricultural classes. $ 

We shall let only the English Protestant press speak here; 
and it will be seen how strongly even that press protests against 
ihe ministerial policy in Ireland, and still more so against the 
v nanner in which facts are mutilated and public opinion led 
away by sacrifice of truth : 

Ireland, — said the Morning Star, London, at the outset of this 
new trial, that is in the month of October 1861, — Ireland is 
again threatened with Famine. Such, we regret to say, 
is the substance of a great number of reports which reach us 
from that part of the kingdom. We had hoped that these 
melancholy words would never again have been repeated on the 
subject of* Ireland. The horrors of 1846 to 1849 seemed to 
have exhausted all that a people could endure of this kind of 
misfortune. These disasters have deprived Ireland of Four 
Millions of men ; but it was supposed that considerable improve- 
ment was the result, and in these late times no common-place 
was treated with more complacency than the theme of the 

* In the island of Innisbofin, notwithstanding the generous conduct of the 
proprietor, Mr. Henry Wilberf orce, the poor fishermen have neither turf nor 
coal nor wood to dress their food ; they can get nothing but dried furze. Many 
cases of dysentery have already occurred on account of these privations. The 
same facts are stated of the Isles of Arran. At Londonderry a member of 
Parliament (Mr. M'Cormick) sent £100 to the.Protestant Bishop for firino- ; the 
charitable donor desired this relief to be distributed among the poor without 
distinction of religious denomination. At the very gates of Dublin, at Kings- 
town, a locality reputed to be very rich, there are over 2000 persons absolutely 
destitute ; ("absolutely in want of food and fuel, bed and bedding.") 

t After the Mansion House meeting (February 17th), on the motion of Dr. 
Gray, the Lord Mayor was put at the head of a Relief Committee. Arch- 
bishop (Mien and Mr. MacSwiney were appointed treasurers. At this single 
meeting £150 were subscribed by way of beginning. 

J The parish priest of Kilmovee (county Mayo) writes on the 18th of February 
that more than eleven hundred of his parishoners have no provisions of any 
sort. The Secretaries of the Committee formed at Athlone publish letters 
received by them from different proprietors promising to come to the aid of the 
peasantry. An inhabitant of Skibbereen writes to the Mansion House Com- 
mittee that the ordinary food of the labourers and fishermen of that locality 
has for the last few months consisted of turnips and sea-weed, and that the 
poor people have scarcely the most indispensable clothes. The parish priest 
of Belmullet has in his parish three hundred families who have nothing to eat, 
and who are undergoing the most extreme privation in order not to abandon 
their cabins. In many parishes of the county Clare the people are living on 
turnips and oatmeal. ' ' Whole families stop in bed all day to allay the cravings 
of hunger."— (Letter of the Rev. John Kenny, Administrator of the parishes 
of Touheran and Cahir, Liscannor, county Clare, 19th Feb,) 


[book v. 

progress and improvement of the sister island. Production 
was on the increase, education was spreading, social and political 
tranquillity took the place of crime and agitation throughout 
the whole country. With the exception of a few districts of 
the North, where party spirit held its last entrenchments, the 
people was peaceful, industrious, and prosperous. Judge after 
judge announced with the utmost satisfaction from the bench 
the diminution of crime. Only a few months ago the Lord 
Lieutenant, at the Belfast banquet, painted in brilliant colours 
the marvellous progress made by the country in habits of order, 
in respect for the law, and in material prosperity. The effects 
of the Incumbered Estates Act were represented as surpassing 
all anticipations. In fine, Ireland had entered fully and 
radically on the path of progress ; she was really become " an 
integral portion of the United Kingdom;" to a discontented, 
disobedient, turbulent, and famishing population had succeeded 
an Irish people, less numerous, indeed, but happy, and heartily 
attached now to the English government; and all this was 
accomplished, thanks to the horrible calamities which had 
Overwhelmed this unfortunate counrty, within fifteen years. 

Were these descriptions true — continues this English writer — 
or purely fanciful? Peaceful ! no doubt of it, Ireland is peace- 
ful; "law and order" are respected there. But, Material 
Prosperity ! We regret to be obliged to say that the reports 
made to this effect, these last few years, are hard to reconcile 
with the notorious fact that at this moment, in a great many 
districts, the people is threatened with a scarcity, and that if 
the assistance of charity is not abundantly given, another 
mortal Famine, though less terrible than the last, is imminent. 
Whatever the cause, the cultivation of the land has sensibly 
diminished this year. The last statistics published by the 
Registrar-General prove, that not only are there thousands of 
acres which have been allowed to remain uncultivated, but also 
that there has been an enormous diminution in live stock, and 
especially in horned cattle and pigs* Besides, the crop of 
potatoes has almost completely failed. The loss is general, 
though some districts have suffered more than others. Is it not 
truly discouraging, after so many consoling reports about the 
Prosperity of Ireland, to learn that the potato is still almost 
exclusively the food of the Irish peasant?! This is however 
what is evidenced by the Meetings held on this subject. The 
Resolutions passed at these Meetings imperatively demand the 
attention of government ; for, we are convinced of it, public 
opinion in England would not tolerate a repetition, even on a 

* These statistics have been quoted ante, p. 118. 
t At least throughout all the West. 


reduced scale, of the horrors of the last Famine, any more than 
justice or humanity could bear to sanction the return of such 
terrible calamities.* 

And again, scarcely had Sir R. Peel declared with such 
solemnity that there was nothing extraordinary in the suffer- 
ings of Ireland, and attempted to cast odium and ridicule on 
the remonstrances of her members, when another English Pro- 
testant paper, the Morning Herald, complained of the attempts 
made by government to lull English opinion into a false state 
of security with regard to the true state of Ireland.f It asked 
why, when scarce recovered from the patriotic fever which the 
breath of O'Connell had kept alive, that island was progres- 
sively losing in all the elements which among other nations 
go to make wealth and prosperity $ why, after having 
been relieved by Emigration of such a multitude of men, she 
was still in the pangs of want and famine, and destitution still 
the normal lot of the Irish peasant. § 

Must we then believe that the policy of the present cabinet 
with regard to Ireland is " a stubborn and stationary policy ;"|| 
that in Ireland as in the East the line followed by England is 
hard, stern, and merciless;^ that there is on the one hand 
truth, with which ministers are well acquainted but will not 
allow, and on the other a policy which they do proclaim, but 
which is contrary alike to the truth and to humanity? These 
reproaches are grave, and they are the more worthy of atten- 
tion inasmuch as they are the outpourings of the English 
conscience itself, " a conscience alike noble and generous, 
Christian and charitable, which respects justice and honor."** 

* Morning Star of 16 October. 

+ " For years we have been lulled into a false security by tbe opiates admi- 
nistered in the smooth speeches of the Irish government and its friends ; while 
Ireland, the right arm of the empire, has been actually losing health, and 
withering into premature feebleness." — {Morning Herald, quoted in News of the 
16th Feb. 1862.) 

J "It would seem that the normal progress of that most ill-fated of isles is 
towards poverty." 

§ "We want no Poor Law statistics and no visits of Sir .Robert Peel to 
remote regions in Connacht to be certain that distress must be the rule of cot- 
tage life in Ireland, and exemption from distress the exception." — The Morning 
Herald adds, (confirming one of our conclusions before stated) : " We have been 
tolerating too long the false Political Economy which has been converting the 
country into an immense prairie, and forcing the population back into the 
savage simplicity of pastoral life Until it resume its old position of feed- 
ing men rather than beasts, there must be a fatal action even on manufacturing 
development, in the absence of capital in the country, and of the means of 
consumption in the inhabitants." — (See also an article of the Morning Star, 
quoted in the Dublin News of the 22nd Feb. The language of Sir R. Peel is 
there qualified as "coarse pleasantry* and insulting fanfaronade.") 

II M. Saint-Marc Girardin ; La Syrie en 1861, p. 267. 

1 Id. lb. ** lb. p. 289. 


[book v. 

But why carry into such questions political preoccupation ? 
If some of the Irish papers wilfully exaggerate the destitu- 
tion of their fellow-countrymen, they are wrong; and it is not 
by such a course of conduct that they will serve a cause in 
which the sole condition of being useful is to treat a friend 
and foe with equal impartiality. Above all if conspirators, and 
the cowardly and despicable agents of secret societies, attempt 
to take advantages of the pangs of hunger in order to fill 
minds with diabolical thoughts of vengeance, disorder and 
murder, then let the just rigor of the law smite them, and the 
contempt and execration of every honest soul be the only 
answer to their criminal instances ! 

But on the other hand, what is the British empire likely to 
gain in glory by the audacious denial of sufferings but too 
real, and of a state of destitution which is in everybody's 
mouth? It is of no use that you state in official speeches, 
and that you suborn papers to trumpet forth, that Ireland 
" is on the high road to progress and to wealth."* Look at 
the rags that still cover her, and which are a reproach to your 
brilliant civilization ; listen to the cries of her mountain popu- 
lations who have neither firing nor potatoes to stay the cravings 
of hunger; and bear in mind that the stigmata of Famine 
pointed out to you are not those of 1846, — since you will have 
it tha^t they have disappeared, and will hear no more about 
them,— but those of 1860, 1861, 1862. This century is 
drawing to its close ; is it not high time to set down among 
the imprescriptible rights of nations that of not being forced 
to die of hunger? 

After having seen Irish destitution in all its details, in town 
and in country, we have now to follow it in one of its most 
ordinary consequences : the necessity in which numbers of fami- 
lies annually find themselves of having recourse to public 
charity- It is important to know in what exactly this Relief 
consists ; on what conditions it is given ; what are the results 
of the system at present presiding over its distribution; and 
what influence, in a religious and moral point of view, this 
system and its administration exercise over a large portion of 
the population of Ireland. 

* Times, 23 Oct., 1861. 





The Poor Law in England dates from about the beginning of 
the Reformation. This coincidence is a strictly logical one. 
The well-springs of charity had just been dried up by the 
destruction of the monasteries, and the dispersion of those 
religious orders which had always generously shared with the 
poor their bread and the alms of the faithful. Their confis- 
cated property had become the treasure of the new State 
Church, of the King its head, and of its dignitaries. The 
care of providing for the poor, whom Catholic charity had for 
ages clothed, fed, comforted, and instructed, fell upon the 
nation at large. The sums required for this purpose became 
an item in the national budget, just as any others of the public 
service. There was a poor-rate, just as well as there was an 
army-rate. Alms were no longer, according to the true spirit 
of the gospel, a spontaneous offering made to indigence in pro- 
portion to the good- will and means of the giver ; but a forced 
contribution, a subsidy of obligation, and a necessary part of 
the mechanism of the administration of taxes. 

This violent revolution, this so radical transformation of 
Poor Relief, produced a corresponding change in the new 
legislation also impregnated with a new spirit. 

The Catholic Church ever had bowels of compassion and a 
real mother's heart for the poor. She had learned from our 
Saviour himself to look upon them as the privileged ones of 
his love, the continuers on earth of his mission of suffering 
and expiation, the born heirs of his kingdom. To the eye of 
Faith the poor is not only " the confidant of Jesus Christ, and 



a co-operator in his great work ;"* his tattered garments are a 
kind of royal mantle covering the majesty of another Jesus 
Christ. For what is done in His name to the least among His 
little ones is done to Himself.f He who feeds, who gives a 
drink to, who clothes or assists the poor, gives meat and drink 
to Jesus Christ, assists and supports Jesus Christ himself. In 
times of fierce and bloody struggle, even when the rudeness 
of barbarian manners more than once overcame the spirit of 
kindness so characteristic of the Church, the deep thinking and 
compassionate men of the middle ages always treated the poor 
man as a brother, honored the hand which received his alms, 
reverently kissed the sores of the mendicant, surrounded the 
leper with a charity equal to his misfortune, and in their piety 
wrote over the portals of the houses built for the poor the 
name of Him whom they believed they were serving in the 
person of the poor. Like the sanctuary, the Hospital and 
the House of Refuge was called the Hotel-Dieu. 

Brought about in England chiefly by greed of wealth, the 
Reformation conceived for the poor nothing but contempt. 
If in the new laws the rate-payer was not spared, the poor man 
was in his turn treated as an enemy. He was no longer 
honored, but proscribed; no longer served, but hunted down; 
no longer loved, but despised and feared. His condition was 
as humiliating and as cruel as that of a slave, who depends on 
the caprice of his master. 

The first royal statute which made Poor Relief compulsory 
was an act of Henry VIII., passed in 1536. By it sheriffs 
magistrates and vestrymen were authorized to " levy" " volun- 
tary" alms. Any person convicted of giving alms' otherwise 
than through these officers was to be sentenced to a fine ten 
times as large as the amount given. As to beggars who per- 
sisted in appealing to public charity, they were to be whipped 
for the first offence, to have the right ear cropped for the 
second, and for the third to be executed as felons and enemies 

of the Commonwealth 4 

This severe statute, the execution of which was impossible, 
did not prevent the increase of vagrancy and mendicity. 

* Bossuet : Sermon on Jesus Christ as an object of scandal. — 2nd point. 

+ Matth. xxv. 46. 

X " This statute (27 Henry VIII. , c. xxv., — 1536,) is remarkable as having 
first introduced the system, of compulsory charity Almsgiving other- 
wise is prohibited on pain of forfeiture of ten times the amount given A 

sturdy beggar is to be whipped the first time, his right ear cropped the second 
time, and if he again offend he shall suffer execution of death as a felon and an enemy 
of the Commonwealth" — (Report of his Majesty's Commissioners for inquiring into 
the administration and practical operation of the Poor Laws, 1834 ; pp. 6 
and 7.) 

CHAP. I.] 


Under Edward Vlth* a new statute was enacted against 
vagrants and importunate destitution. It was supposed to be 
more lenient than the former. By it mendicants were to he 
only branded on the shoulder with the letter V. (vagrant). 
In case of relapse they were sentenced to slavery for two years ; 
their master being allowed to feed them on bread and water, 
and to chain them up. Runaways had the letter S (slave) 
seared into their necks, and were condemned to slavery for 
the rest of their lives. In case of relapse they were to suffer 

death; (1547).| 

Eight other laws passed under Elizabeth attempted to secure 
Relief for the Poor by voluntary alms, and to repress men- 
dicity by penalties worthy of Draco.| All these efforts were 
futile. A Poor-Rate had to be established by an act of the 
forty-fourth year of her reign, such as it has since continued 
through all the succeeding revolutions and changes of dynasty 
in England. 

By this act the vestrymen of each parish, assisted by two, 
three, or four, of the chief proprietors, and by two or more 
justices of the peace, were to be elected yearly in Easter week 
as administrators of the parochial poor law. This office obliged 
them to find work for the able-bodied poor; and to provide 
assistance for children, and for the sick and decrepit. In order 
to meet the expenses of this administration they had to levy a 
tax upon the parishioners proportioned to the means of each. 
This rate was obligatory, and the property of those refusing to 
pay it could be distrained. § 

We are not going to follow through all its changes during 
the seventeenth, eighteenth, and first half of the nineteenth 
century, the application of the English system inaugurated 
by Protestantism as a palliative to the excessive evils it had 

* Sacrilegiously called " St. Edward," in Fox's Martyrology ! 

t Same Report, just quoted ; pp. 7, 8. 

J See among others 14 Eliz., c. v. (1572): "All persons thereafter set 
forth to be rogues and vagabonds, or sturdy beggars, shall for the first offence 
be grievously whipped, and burned through the gristle of the right ear with a 
hot iron of the compass of an inch about ; for the second, be deemed as felons ; 
and for the third, suffer death as felons without benefit of clergy. " — (Report 
before quoted, p. 10.) 

Four years subsequently God raised up in France the man destined to close 
the wounds inflicted by Protestantism on the social economy of Christian 
nations. If the evil was immense, the remedy was proportioned to it. God 
provided it iu the extraordinary development and the prodigious fruitfulness of 
a charity which like the grain of mustard seed in the Gospel grows every day, 
spreads out its branches loaded with fruit over the whole earth, and instead of 
declining in time multiplies from year to year its marvellous and touching 
creations. Saint Vincent de Paul was born in 1576. 

§ " Ati act for the Relief of the Poor ; Anno regni Eliz. 43." (The complete 
text of the act will be found in the Appendix to the Report of 1834.) 



At a relatively recent period, in 1834, the poor law had to 
be reformed, and the enormous taxes required for its execution 
to be diminished, since they had become a fearful burthen on 
property, and instead of remedying the evil tended but to 
s]3read and aggravate it. 

Up to that period, notwithstanding the spectacle of tra- 
ditional destitution which Ireland presented to the world, after 
seven hundred years of war, spoliation, and ravage, nothing 
similar had been done for her. Did this arise from indifference 
to sufferings which only weighed upon the Catholic part of the 
population ? Did it arise from a fear of increasing the already 
heavy burthens of the rate payer? Was it from a presenti- 
ment that the effect of such a measure would be out of pro- 
portion to the extent and depth of the evils to be remedied ? 
Was it, in fine, a secret instinct that warned the Protestant 
legislator that the introduction of the English system into 
Ireland would, in spite of the material good produced, be 
necessarily both in form and execution repugnant to the char- 
acter and to the deep Catholic feelings of the Irish nation? 

All these motives may have simultaneously concurred in the 
conclusion. Still, as public distress was increasing from year 
to year, the English government thought of introducing into 
Ireland a system of public charity analogous to if not com- 
pletely identical with the system which had been working in 
England for two centuries and a half. Accordingly an enquiry 
into Irish distress was opened by order of parliament in 1834- 
1835* The principal members of the Commission were: Dr. 
Whately, Protestant Archbishop of Dublin; Dr. Murray, Ca- 
tholic Archbishop; Messrs. Carlisle; Corrie; Vignoles; More 
O'Ferrall; &c. This Commission entered into a complete 
examination of the question, and into the most minute details 
of the situation of the working classes. 

The year following (1836) a Special Commissioner, Mr. 
Nicholls,f was sent to Ireland by Lord John Russell, to study 
and submit to government a plan for the administration of a 
poor law. 

This new enquiry was conducted with excessive haste, little 
in harmony with the grave problem to be solved. At a time 
when compared with our own travelling in Ireland was ex- 
tremely slow, in nine weeks Mr. Nicholls had made his inspec- 
tion, taken his notes, come to his conclusions, and prepared and 
presented his Report ! To any one that reads this work it is 
clear that the author looked at Ireland but through English 
prejudices. We have consequently to regret the absence of 

* " The Irish Poor Inquiry." f Afterwards Sir George Nicholls, K.C.B. 


that character of truthfulness, of extreme care, and of perfect 
exactness, so strikingly evident in the Report of the Commis- 
sioners of 1835.* 

It was according to the conclusions presented in Mr. Nicholls' 
Report that Parliament adopted, in July 1838, the first Poor 
Law enacted for Ireland-! Under the provisions of this law 
the construction of a certain number of establishments for the 
reception of the destitute was directed, and the proprietors of 
each county were rated for their support. 

Twenty-three years have rolled by since these new institu- 
tions of public relief were established ; a considerably larger 
space of time than would suffice to furnish matter for an im- 
partial and complete judgment upon the results attained and 
the influence exercised by them. 



The administration in chief of the poor law, is, in Ireland, 
entrusted to a Commission consisting of five members resident 
in Dublin. The Chief and Under Secretaries of State always 
belong to this Commission ex officio, as honorary members.! 
This Commission directs and controls the acts of all local 
administrations ; confirms the appointment of all functionaries ; 
regulates expenses ; examines accounts ; and j udges all those 
administrative acts of which the poor law may be the object or 
the pretext. In all these matters its authority is supreme ; it 
is at once a ministry, a court of audit, and a court of appeal. 
For all acts performed in virtue of its triple quality it is 
responsible to parliament alone. 

The authority of this Commission, as wide as it is powerful, 
is daily exercised upon questions which intimately concern the 
gravest interests of the Irish people. Fifteen§ years ago it 
was the arbiter of the fate of two millions of men; and if 
since that time the numbers of those dependant upon public 
charity has progressively decreased, it is no less true that the 

* It is M. Gustave de Beaumont that thus appreciates Mr. Nicholls' report, 
(vol. i. p. 361). If the judgment is severe, at least the character of the judge 
is above all suspicion. 

f A.n Act for the more effectual Relief of the Destitute Poor in Ireland ; 
(July 31st, 1838). 

% Thorn's Off. Direct; 1862 ; p. 775. 

§ In 1847, and 1848. 



Dublin Commissioners are the sovereign masters of the destiny 
of the poor of Ireland. 

Now the poor of Ireland consist chiefly of the native popula- 
tion, the Celtic Catholic race. It is this population which the 
strangest and most continuous trials have for ages devoted to 
unceasing misery, and to the most cruel privations. Had the 
English Government called in Irishmen and Catholics to sit in 
a council where the fate of many thousands of Irish Catholics 
is determined, it would have done but an act of equity and 
decency; it would have honored itself by shewing that it 
looked upon the Emancipation Act as a reality; it would 
thereby have put an end to much distrust, calmed anxiety, and 
dispelled the suspicions of a people whom adversity may have 
rendered distrustful but who would have appreciated the deli- 
cacy of such a proceeding and answered this upright conduct 
by sincere gratitude. 

Instead of this, what has been done? For the last twenty- 
three years, the vast administrative and executive powers at the 
head of the poor law mechanism have been centered in the 
hands of an almost exclusively English and Protestant Com- 

It is true that sometimes an appeal is made to Parliament 
against abuses of authority committed by the Chief Commis- 
sioners ;* but such an appeal cannot possibly secure any effectual 
protection to those who stand most in need of it. 

How then had the ministers of Queen Victoria the courage 
to reproach the Austrian government with confiding the admi- 
nistration of Venice and Lombardy to Germans, when in spite 
of the solemn protests of the Irish Episcopacy, in spite of the 
reiterated remonstrances of the press, in spite of the regard due 
to propriety and to public opinion, they invest five Protestant 
Commissioners, four of whom are English, with an all but 
absolute power over a large portion of the population of Ire- 
land ? Are they not aware that in maintaining so insulting an 
anomaly they wound the Catholic conscience in its most delicate 
and most sensitive part? Is it not evident that this mass of 
poor whom misery annually obliges to appeal for help to public 
charity is treated like a vanquished population in whose case 
neither right nor misfortune is respected, since it is placed in 
dependance upon an almost irresponsible Commision, whose 
members are not only foreigners but hostile to the faith of the 
country ?f 

* We shall have to speak further on of the affair of Father Fox, at Dublin. 

f For example, at this moment, the Secretary for Ireland, Sir Robert Peel, 
an ex-officio member of the central Poor Law Commission. (See ante, p. 9, as 
to the sentiments of Sir R. Peel towards the Catholics.) 


Let us however leave the region of constitutional meta- 
physics ; let us come to facts. All these poor shut up in the 
workhouses are called citizens of the United Kingdom; the 
equals in rights and privileges of the Protestant city merchants, 
and of the wealthy manufacturers of Manchester and Leeds ; 
enjoying like them the privilege of being governed by the 
elected of .the nation, and of living under the most liberal rule 
in the world. What a mockery ! As a matter of fact, who 
are the arbiters of the fate of these unfortunate people? Who 
judges whether they get enough to eat, and whether in their 
case any respect is shown to those sacred rights of conscience 
which are the last treasure of the poor after the ruin of his 
temporal hopes? Those supreme decrees of life or death of 
body and soul emanate every one of them from that English 
Protestant pentarchy. Now it is assuredly morally impossible 
that its members should not carry with them into the adminis- 
tration of the poor-law, (and especially into all questions 
touching the spiritual,) national or religious prejudices; in 
general the best disposed wishes and most liberal intentions 
will as it were necessarily break upon the rock of prejudices 
such as these. 

Up to the present neither the executive nor the legislative 
power seems to be concerned at this manifestly outrageous ano- 
maly. It appears to both those powers quite natural that 
Irishmen should not at all be called on to give any opinion upon 
the best way of relieving their fellow countrymen. To submit 
to a tribunal in which the Protestant element is four to one 
even questions connected with and differences arising out of 
the religious interests of the Catholic poor, seems to them quite 
a matter of course. It does not cause the slightest scruple 
even to statesmen who claim to be the very apostles of 
liberty of conscience all over the world ; so thick is the cloud 
of Protestant prejudices against Catholics ! to such a depth has 
the selfishness of conquest and domination penetrated the 
English government ! 

The poor law has been in operation in Ireland twenty-three 
years. During that period political power has frequently 
changed hands; seven changes of ministry have alternately 
passed it from the Whigs to the Tories and from the Tories to 
the Whigs again. 

But neither the hottest of the Tories nor the most liberal of 
the Whigs have found anything to alter in this system. It 
would seem that in presence of the powerful unity of Catho- 
licism, and the contempt and hatred which it excites amongst 
its adversaries, all political broils die away. To outrage and 
persecute it Lords Palmerston and Derby forget their ''differ- 



ences, just as in Exeter Hall meetings for the same purpose 
Methodists and Episcopalians, Lutherans and Calvinists, shout 
for once in unison. 

How much longer are we to wait for the day when the 
British cabinet will at length understand that there is on this 
point a radical reform to be effected and urgent satisfaction to 
be granted to one of the most conspicuous and well founded 
grievances of the Irish people?* 



The local administration is in each Union confided to the 
Board of Guardians. These Boards are composed of two very 
distinct elements, according as the Guardians form part of them 
by virtue of their office, that is as magistrates and unelected, 
or as they hold their place and power as the elected of the 
ratepayers.! The office of Guardian is an honorary one. 

They it is who fix the poor-rate for the respective Electoral 
Divisions; who look after its payment; who apply it; and who 
in the weekly board meetings discuss and decide upon all 
questions of detail relative to the distribution of relief. 

All Ireland has, since 1850, been divided into one hundred 
and sixty-three unions :$ in each of which there is a poor-house, 
The " Masters" and inferior officers of these Workhouses are 
appointed by the Guardians. 

The manner in which the local Boards of Guardians are 
composed affords more solid guarantees of equitable adminis- 
tration than the Superior Commission. 

* Among other protests entered against the exclusively Protestant and almost 
exclusively English composition of the chief Poor Law Board, one of the most 
solemn is assuredly that contained in a. pastoral letter of the Archbishops and 
Bishops of Ireland upon the chief grievances of the country, dated the 5th of 
August, 1859. We may also refer to a very good article in the Weekly Register, 
in the same month ; and one in the Irish Quarterly Review for October, 1859 ; 
p. 863. 

+ "Ex officio" and "elected" Guardians. — In the transaction of business the 
administrative correspondence and the care of the records of each Board of 
Guardians is committed to a Clerk. 

t In 1841, there were but 92 unions ; 106 in 1843 ; 113 in 1844 ; 123 in 1845 ; 
129 in 1846 j 130 in 1847 ; 131 in 1848-1849. The 163 existing unions are sub- 
divided into 3,438 electoral districts. Since 1851 the Boards of Guardians 
have been authorized by Act of Parliament to form also Dispensary Districts. 
The number of these districts is 761 ; containing 1000 dispensaries, attended to 
by 773 doctors. Some districts have besides apothecaries and midwives. — 
(Medical Charities Act, 14 and 15 Vict. cap. 68.) 


The Guardians who sit at their Boards ex officio are as a 
matter of fact but government nominees, since it is from 
government that they hold their commission of Justices of the 
Peace ; but their influence is to a considerable extent balanced 
by that of the elected Guardians. 

In England and Scotland ministers of religion may be mem- 
bers of Boards of Guardians, whether by virtue of any title 
held by them as Justices of the Peace, or by election. In 
Ireland however no minister of religion of whatever religious 
denomination can be a Guardian. 

This difference is disadvantageous to Ireland. It is only 
ot be explained, with many other anomalies, by the religious 
dessidences which separate Ireland from the rest of Great 

It is in truth a matter of regret to see legally excluded from 
the administration of public relief the very men whom the 
nature of their functions brings most into habitual contact with 
the poor, and who best understand their habits and their 

On the other hand this exclusion is nowise a matter of sur- 
prise to us. The influence of the Catholic clergy in Ireland is 
such, that at nearly all elections of Guardians the Parish Priest 
the natural protector of the poor would obtain the majority of 
votes. Protestant ministers would have had to sit at the board 
simply in quality of magistrates. It was doubtless thought 
more prudent to forego their services than to render it possible 
for the Catholic clergy to exercise a dreaded control over the 
manner of administering public charity. 

Now to any person that knows Ireland, and is familiar with 
the feelings of her inhabitants, the wretchedness of their con- 
dition, and the physical and moral wants resulting from that 
wretchedness, it is perfectly clear that this exclusion is su- 
premely prejudicial to the interests of poor Catholics. 

The priest is evidently the person in all the parish who 
according to the touching expression of Holy Writ best under- 
stands the poor, his wants, his afflictions, and his unspeakable 
trials both of body and mind. What an assistance would not 
his long experience be to the administrators of public charity ! 
What a consolation would not his presence be to the unfor- 
tunate people, who entering upon an entirely new kind of life 
have always need of the protection of some one devoted to 
them ! He would be to them a father and a friend, whose 
evangelical charity would soften down the stiffness and harsh- 
ness of administrative forms in the dispensing of legal relief ; 
but he is not permitted to lift up in the councils the voice of 
his wisdom and goodness ! He is the watchful guardian, the 



incorruptible defender of the rights of faith and conscience ; 
but this protest can only reach abuses already committed ; it is 
powerless to prevent those about to be committed. 

This exclusion is doubtless equally enforced in the case of 
the Anglican Rector and of the Presbyterian Minister. It 
would seem therefore that it is rather upon the ecclesiastical 
than upon the Catholic element that the door of the Board 
room is closed. This apparent impartiality will however blind 
no one. It is well known that the Anglican and Presbyterian 
poor in the southern and western Workhouses form an almost 
imperceptible minority. Consequently the fact of their minis- 
ters not forming part of the Board of Guardians is in no way 
prejudicial to them. Is it not however highly prejudical to 
Catholics, especially where they form nineteen-twentieths of the 
workhouse population, that their priests are not admitted with 
the other notables of the country to share in the good admin- 
stration of the law, and in the charitable dispensation of public 

The manner in which these local Boards of Guardians are 
formed is open to another objection. 

In this matter the fundamental principle of " no represen- 
tation, no tax," is indeed less overlooked than in the formation 
of Grand Juries. Beside the ex-offwio guardians sit the elected 
guardians ; and election guarantees to the ratepayer the legiti- 
mate expenditure of taxes, and is a powerful engine f or^ influ- 
encing the manner of relieving the poor. 

These guarantees are however singularly lessened by the 
presence of ex-offwio guardians, and by the peculiar system of 
voting which government has not undesignedly introduced 
into the local Boards. 

Ex-officio Guardians represent on these boards the aristocratic 
and Protestant element, destined to counterbalance the liberal 
and Catholic element. Every magistrate is entitled, by virtue 
of his office, to sit on the board. Now we have shewn* that 
in Ireland, as in England, " magistrate " and " wealthy land- 
owner" are nearly synonymous terms. And the landed aris- 
tocracy of Ireland are generally Protestants. Hence it follows 
that by giving magistrates an ex-officio title to sit on Poor Law 
Boards, the Protestant conservative element has been favoured 
with a marked preponderance. 

To convince oneself of it, it would be sufficient but to glance 
over the weekly reports of Board Meetings published in the 
local papers. In all discussions in which religious questions 
are discussed, the interest of the Catholic poor are usually 

* See ante, p. 24, et seq. 


systematically* if not hotly opposed by ex-officio guardians, 
members of the Protestant aristocracy. This is not surprising ; 
since, on the one hand they belong generally to the Established 
Church, and on the other the very title by which they sit on 
these Boards renders them indifferent to the confidence of the 
ratepayer. Representatives of power and of the aristocracy, 
not of the people, they do not feel themselves bound to the 
latter by that feeling of responsibility which usually puts the 
elected in just dependance upon the elector. 

One of the privileges granted to Boards of Guardians shows 
how jealously the government favours and supports the aristo- 
cratic element. We allude to the Vote by Proxy, a privilege 
which Guardians enjoy in common with the Peers of the United 
Kingdom. In fact the latter may although absent from the 
House of Lords exercise a real influence upon its acts by voting 
through another peer. Hence it happens that frequently upon 
a Bill being submitted to the examination of the Upper House, 
some one peer will register not only his own vote but those of 
five or six other peers actually at the time residing at Naples 
or at Baden. This extraordinary practice is called the proxy 

In the House of Commons there is no similar arrangement. 
Each member there represents his constituents simply, and can 
only vote in person. 

Upon this point Boards of Guardians enjoy the same privi- 
lege as the Lords, and for similar political reasons. Many 
large landowners, at once magistrates and ex-officio poor law 
Guardians, are usually absent, and spend a considerable portion 
of the year in England or on the Continent.f Were Guardians 
obliged to vote in person, the larger share of influence upon 
Boards would pass into the hands of the elected Guardians, 
whose very election obliges them to assist regularly at the 
Boards, and to take an active and constant part in matters 
relating to poor law. Under more than one state of circum- 
stances this administrative influence might assume the character 
of real political power. For the Boards of Guardians have 
power to discuss the general interests of their respective Unions, 
to pass resolutions relating to the condition of the poor, 
and when necessary to address representations to government 
through the Dublin Board. 

Now, since at the bottom of all the political difficulties of 
Ireland there lie, as we believe we have abundantly shewn, 

* We say usually not invariably; well knowing that there are many Protestant 
ex-officio Guardians who endeavour to give the poor the aid of which they stand 
in need, in nowise influenced by religious prejudices. 

| See ante, Book TL, Chap. V. ; Absenteeism. 


social and religious questions of the highest importance ; as the 
most serious grievances of that country are to be found in the 
abnormal condition of the agricultural classes, and in those 
Protestant prejudices which have survived the Emancipation 
Act ; it is clear of what immense importance it is to a govern- 
ment at once English and Protestant that the decision of ques- 
tions such as these should not be abandoned exclusively to the 
elected of the people. It is on the other hand also very clear 
how much that government must have it at heart to secure a 
decisive preponderance to that class of society which represents 
its policy, and whose interests are so closely bound up with its 
own. It is then for this reason that poor law Guardians have, 
like the members of the Upper House, the privilege of voting 
by proxy. Such and such a wealthy landowner can make but 
short and rare visits to his Irish estates ; he still keeps up, how- 
ever, by the intervention of a neighbouring landlord, the in- 
fluence of his vote in all meetings of the Board of Guardians. 

The presence of ex-officio Guardians and the system of vote 
by proxy thus secure to the aristocratic and Protestant element 
the chief influence in the local administration of the Poor Law. 



Protest ant influence is all but exclusively predominant in 
the central administration; it is preponderant in a large 
number of the Boards of Guardians. 

We cannot therefore be surprised at the part given to Pro- 
testants in Workhouse employment. 

A Parliamentary Return prepared during the course of last 
session, on the motion of Mr. Monsell, member for Limerick, 
gives us interesting and significant information upon this head. 
This Return was furnished by the Chief Commissioners for a 
Committee of the House of Commons charged with an Inquiry 
into the working of the Poor Law in Ireland. 

From this report we gather that in Irish Workhouses the 
Catholics form more than eight-tenths (nearly nine-tenths) of 
the total number * 

Now, the principal offices in the Workhouses are divided as 
follows between Protestants and Catholics: 

* Exact proportion : — j 8 7 o 



In each Union a paid " Clerk " is attached to the Board of 
Guardians. This office is very important in an administrative 
point of view; and where the Clerk is not the head, he is 
always the right hand of the District Board.* 

Out of 163 Clerks, there are 87 Protestants and 78 Catho- 
lics. In Ulster there are but five Catholics out of 45 Clerks. 

The same unequal proportion is to be found in the situations 
of Matron, Shoolmaster, and Schoolmistress. 

The "Master" is as it were the father of the family over the 
inmates of the Workhouse. The physical and sanitary care, the 
morality, the religious liberty, the good conduct of the house, 
the behaviour of the poor relieved there as well as that of the 
under officials, all this is under his immediate control. He it is 
who says or gets said in his name the morning and evening 
prayers ; and indeed the daily dealings which his functions 
oblige him to carry on with the children brought up in the 
Workhouse, and with the sick, would seem to require that 
his religious belief should be in harmony with that of the ma- 
jority of the poor confided to his care. 

On the 1st of May 1861, out of 156 Workhouse Masters, 
there were but eighty-five (say 54^ per cent.) Catholics ; and in 
Ulster, out of 43, three only were not Protestants. 

To render these proportions still more shocking, the same 
report states that on the 1st of May 1861, in 16 Workhouses 
out of 163, there was not one single Protestant pauper; that in 
14 others there was but one ; and in fine, that in many other 
Workhouses the number of Protestants did not exceed five. 
Now in some of these same Workhouses either the Master, or 
the Matron, sometimes both, were Protestants. 

Women are, as a rule more numerous than men in the 
Workhouses ; it is therefore still more expedient, for the 
gravest reasons, that the Matron should share the religious 
belief of the majority of those under her care. 

On the 1st of May 1861, out of 163 Matrons, 88, (or 54 per 
cent.) were Catholics. In Ulster, out of 44, three only were 
not Protestants ; although in this same province the Catholics 
are much more numerous in the Workhouses than the Pro- 

If these observations are just in the case of the Master or 
Matron of the Workhouse, they assuredly gain in force in the 
case of Schoolmasters and Schoolmistresses charged with the 
education of children brought up in the Workhouses. 

In fact, under the system at present in force parents are 

* "He is frequently the head, but always the hand, of the Board of 

318 the poor law. 

[book VI. 

relieved by the will of man from the sacred duty of the 
education of their children which the law of God imposes upon 

As soon as a child can walk and do without the care of a 
mother he or she is taken away from her, and according to his 
or her sex is placed in such or such a part of the Workhouse. 
At rare intervals, on Sundays, at a certain hour, he can pass a 
short time with his parents. But the essential ties are for all 
the future broken; the parents have no longer any control, nor 
surveillance, nor action, over the education of their children ; 
the schoolmaster and schoolmistress are invested with the rights 
and functions of father and mother. 

On the 1st of May 1861, the 163 Workhouses of Ireland 
contained 16,517 children; of whom about nine-tenths were 
Catholics. The return informs us that out of 90 schoolmasters, 
63 were Catholics; and out of 162 schoolmistresses, 117 were 
Catholics. In Ulster alone 21 schoolmasters out of 22 were 
Protestants ; and out of 39 schoolmistresses five only were 

Thus in ten Workhouses of that province, in which there 
were, on the 1st of May 1861, 2,100 Catholic children,* the 
schoolmasters and schoolmistresses were all Protestants. 

At a few steps distance from their children, separated from 
them only by a little court and the pitiless provisions of the 
Workhouse rule, are the father and mother who have come 
to destitution perhaps from no other cause than for having 
willed to defend the conscience and faith of those very little 
ones against unjust compulsion. They must however silently 
and in the secrecy of their souls suffer the bitter thought that 
their child is exclusively subject to the influence of such an 
education. What a respect for the rights of others ! What a 
sincere practice of liberty of conscience in a rule under which 
such anomalies are habitual, and where to verify them it is only 
necessary to glance at the official reports of the administrators ! 
Was not O'Connell very right to oppose as he did the estab- 
lishment of the poor-law in Ireland ? And are not the Catholic 
bishops but too well justified in entering against such a system 
a unanimous protest ?f 

To conclude: if we add to the preceding classes of officials 

* At Belfast, 548 ; Londonderry, 268 ; Newry, 244 ; Downpatrick, 176 ; 
Enniskillen, 167; Armagh, 163; Omagh, 152; Castleblaney, 148; Lurgan, 
148 ; Monaghan, 126. 

t " How could we pass by unnoticed the danger to the faith of Catholic 
children in Workhouse schools under Protestant teachers, and the attempts to 
protestantize by force of pretended laws, having no real existence, the poor 
deserted children of Catholic parents ? — (Pastoral Letter of all the Irish Epis- 
copacy, 5th Aug. 1859.) 

CHAP. V.] 


that of the Workhouse and District Infirmary Doctors, we 
arrive at a total of 1700 officials; (Clerks, Masters, Matrons, 
Schoolmasters, Schoolmistresses and Doctors.) Of these 720 
are Catholics, and 980 Protestants ; and this in an administration 
charged with giving the benefit of public aid to a destitute 
population of whom about nine-tenths are Catholics ! 



It has been justly observed that the Tax for the Relief of the 
Poor is not a cess or fixed tax ; but a rate, or in other words 
an imposition which increases indefinitely in proportion to the 
demand, just as in a mutual assurance company.* 

Moreover, this tax is not uniform throughout Ireland. The 
expenses of a Workhouse are provided for by each Union ; 
and the expenses of keeping the poor are levied upon each 
Electoral Division, in proportion to the number of poor 

Hence arise marked differences in the manner in which 
poor-rates affect property, according to the Electoral Division 
in which it is situated, and according to the exigencies of the 

A change has frequently been called for, both through the 
press and through Parliamentary petitions, in the present 
method of levying the poor-rates by Electoral Divisions, with 
a view to making the tax uniform throughout the Union. 

* M. Jules de Lasteyrie ; " L'Irlande, depuis la derniere famine ;" (Revue des 
Deux- Mondes ; Aug. 1st, 1853; p. 506.) 

+ The Electoral Division is a subdivision of the Union. 

% The year 1849, instanced by M. Jules de Lasteyrie in the above quoted article, 
was a very heavy one in this respect. The nett produce of real property in Ire- 
land being estimated at £13, 187,421 (according to the official valuation made in 
1841, under the direction of the Poor Law Commissioners) the poor-rates of 
1849 amounted to £2,177,651 ; that is to say, about one-sixth of the estimated 
income. This inequality becomes very evident upon comparison of the 
following figures : 

Valuation of Poor- Rates 

Income. in 1849. 

Londonderry, (Ulster), £111,959 £7,199 

Lisburn, (Ulster), 136,397 4,294 

Westport,..(Connacht), 38,876 32,113 

Clifden, (Oonnacht), 22,426 22,526 

— (See Revue des Deux Mondes, Aug. 1st, 1853, p. 506.) 



In fact, it often happens that the results of the present sys- 
tem of taxation are such as these : 

Each Division being of small extent, the rate generally weighs 
upon a small number of proprietors and occupiers. Now we 
have said above that if the general expenses of the Workhouse 
are levied by Unions, these expenses are apportioned over the 
Electoral Divisions according to the number of poor relieved. 
Therefore the less the number of poor in a given Electoral 
Division the lower is the rate there. Many proprietors are 
therefore but too naturally tempted to clear their estates of 
every family whose position would increase in their case the 
amount of the rate upon their electoral division. 

It is sad to think that of late years more than one eviction 
has been determined by this sordid calculation ; and that thus 
the effect of the poor laws has been directly contrary to that 
professed to be intended by the authors and administrators of 
it. It has made paupers before affording them relief ; and the 
families of poor tenants ejected from their holdings, and thrown 
out on the high road by a landlord anxious above all to diminish 
his share of the poor-rates, have been victimised by a law 
nominally made for the relief of the unfortunate. 

This system has not only in the case of many families been 
the starting point of a long series of misfortunes ; but it still 
maintains at the expense of certain ratepayers so unjust an 
inequality that the protests made against it can in no way 
surprise us. 

In fact, since the general expenses of the Workhouse are 
levied by Unions, all the Electoral Divisions forming the sub- 
divisions of the Union are inseparably connected with each 
other. If one of them throws off part of the burthen which it 
had to support, that part necessarily falls upon the others, and 
but too often upon those which were already the most heavily 

This difference is especially sensible as between the country 
and town Divisions, and is explained by the selfish proceedings 
of the landlords. 

What becomes of the evicted tenants who do not possess 
the means required for Emigration, and who are unwilling to 
betake themselves immediately to the Workhouse? They 
leave the rural district in which they were living, and where 
they have no chance of getting work or a livelihood. They 
flock into the towns ; settle down ; struggle for a time, but 
unsuccessfully, against poverty ; and are soon obliged to have 
recourse to public relief.* 

* See last Book ; Chap. T. 

CHAP. V.] 


In this case, however, the expenses of this relief fall upon 
the Electoral Division in which they happen to be at the 
moment they apply for that relief; that is to say upon the 
town ratepayers, already more heavily taxed than the country 
one. They cannot avoid this increase of taxes. Once in the 
town the poor remain there ; they can never get back to the 
rural district from which they have been expelled. Thus it 
happens that in the same Union, there are often such marked 
and inequitable differences between the Electoral Divisions * 
We shall quote a few examples taken from the most authentic 

The total amount of Poor-Rates levied in the Cork Union 
for the six years from 1854 to 1860 was £153,700. Of this 
sum £100,600 was paid by the Electoral Divisions of the City, 
and only £53,100 by the Rural Divisions.f 

In the Electoral Division which comprises the town of 
Kilkenny, for the seven years ended 1857, the estimated 
annual value being £29,198, the Poor-Rates ^ amounted to 
£34,626 ; that is, in that Electoral Division 23s. 6d. in the 
pound was paid; whilst in the Rural Divisions of the same 
Union, with an estimated revenue of £71,764, the Poor-Rate 
amounted only to £34,626, (9s. 6d. in the pound).! 

In the same seven years, the Electoral Division of the town 
of Cashel was taxed to the amount of £20,987, with a revenue 
of £11,441; or 31s. 6d. in the pound; whilst in the Rural 
Divisions of the same Union only £52,182 were paid upon an 
estimated revenue of £94,661 ; or 12s. Id. in the pound. 

Many similar cases might be adduced in addition to the 
preceding. They would go to prove that generally the city 
Electoral Divisions are much more heavily rated than the rural. 
This fact has two grave disadvantages attending it. The first 
is that of rendering the Poor-Rate odious to the heavily taxed 
ratepayer ; the second that of inspiring the Guardians of these 
urban districts with a desire of reducing as much as possible 
the amount of relief given to the poor, and of administering 
the poor-rates with excessive economy, 

* See upon this question, an excellent article in the Corh Examiner of August 
31st 1860. The writer clearly proves that taxation by Unions would prevent 
the abuses arising from taxation by Electoral Divisions. It would have the 
extra advantage of allowing of an administration both more economical, and 
better calculated to meet the wants peculiar to each locality, than county taxa- 
tion, and especially than a uniform taxation for all Ireland, which would 
have all the disadvantages inherent to a system of centralization. 

t Speech of Sir John Arnott, Mayor of Cork, and member of Parliament 
for Kinsale, at a meeting of the Board of Guardians, Aug. 29th 1860. 

% So in Youghal, Ennis, Clonmel, Waterford, and New-Ross. (See pamphlet 
entitled "Reformof the. Poor-Law System in Ireland, by Denis Phelan, Late Assist- 
ant Poor-Law Commissioner, and Poor-Law Inspector ;" Dublin 1859; pp. 
24 et seq. ) 

2 A 



The chief Poor Law Commissioners enjoy, it is true, a dis- 
cretionary power of altering the limits of Electoral Divisions, 
independently of the Boards of Guardians. This power how- 
ever they are not very desirous of exercising, on account of 
the difficulties to be overcome. It is to be desired in prefer- 
ence that the system of taxation by Unions, adopted in 1837 
by the House of Commons, should no longer meet in the 
House of Lords with that opposition which determined its 
rejection in 1838 ; and that thus within the same Union the 
burthen of taxes should be equally distributed among the 

Added to all the other local rates, and to the many taxes 
with which Ireland is already burthened, the Poor-Rate is in 
itself a very heavy burthen. From the time when Work- 
houses were first opened until 1860 the following is the amount; 
of Poor-rates levied annually, and of poor relieved :* 

Year. Amount of Poor-Rates. Number of Poor relieved.- 

1840 £ 37,057 10,910 

1841 110,278 31,108 

1842 281,233 87,604 

1843 244,374 87,898 

1844 271,334 105,358 

1845 316,025 114,205 

1846 435,001 250,822 

1847 803,686 417,139 

1848 1,835,634 2,043,505 

1849 2,177,651 2,142,766 

1850 1,430,108 1,174,267 

1851 1,141,647 755,347 

1852 883,267 519,575 

1853 785,718 409,668 

1854 760,152 319,616 

1855 685,259 305,226 

1856 576,390 217,136 

1857 498,889 190,823 

1858 456,880 183,056 

1859 413,596 159,131 

1860 454,266 179,514 

As may be seen from the preceding Table, there has been 
since 1852 a large and constant falling off in the amount of 
Poor Rates, and in the number of poor relieved. The only 
exception to this was the year 1860, during which 20,000 addi- 
tional poor were relieved, and £40,000 additional expended. 

* Thorn's Off. Direct. ; 1862, p. 696.— And last Report of Poor Law Commis- 
siontrs ; 1861, p. 114. 

CHAP. V.] 


This progressive falling off in the number of poor and in 
the amount destined for their relief is one of the chief argu- 
ments alleged to show that Ireland is on the road to incontes- 
tible prosperity, and that she has never been so happy. It is 
however easy to prove by the help of the preceding table that 
if the Ireland of 1860 and 1861 be compared with the Ireland 
of 1840-1845 the advantage is not with the former term of 
the comparison. 

In fact in 1841, with a population of 8,175,124 inhabitants* 
the poor-rates amounted only to £110,278; in 1860 with a 
population of 5,764,543 the poor-rates amounted to £454,266 ; 
that is to say they have more than quadrupled, whilst the 
population has decreased by a third. 

If Poor-Rates have thus increased, it is evidently because 
there are more poor in want of relief; 31,108 out of a popu- 
lation of over eight millions in 1841 ; in 1860, out of a popu- 
lation of less than six millions nearly six times the number 
of poor; (179,514.) 

Of one thing there can then be no doubt. Twenty years 
ago, with a much larger population, poor-rates weighed less 
heavily on the country. May the real progress of Ireland 
soon put her into such a condition that there will be no more 
poor to be relieved, and no more money required for the pur- 
pose, than daring the six years which immediately preceded 
the great famine ! 

However great may be the amount of the poor-rates at the 
present day, we must not however therefore suppose that the 
whole of this sum is expended in relief given to the poor. 

One of the great defects of the present system, (and we 
have heard the most moderate and competent men speak of it 
in very strong terms) is, that a large proportion of the tax 
levied on the ratepayer for the relief of public destitution is 
expended in the administration of that relief.* 

Thus in 1848, out of a total of £1,835,634 expended, the 
mere salaries of functionaries and other expenses of adminis 
tration amounted to £504,920; in 1860 out of £454,266 they 
amounted to £876,070 ; that is, to more than a quarter of the 
total amount. 

It sometimes happens that, in certain Workhouses, the sala- 
ries of functionaries, independently of election expenses, &c, 
amount to more than the sum expended on the poor. Thus, 

* " The valuation in French money of administration expenses for the 
relief of the poor will better exhibit the enormity of the abuse. This machi- 
nery costs in Ireland seventeen millions of francs (£680,000), before a single 
pauper has been relieved." — (Jules deLasteyrie; Revue des Deux Mondes, 
August 1st, 1853.) 


[book vr. 

we find in the last official Report published by the Poor Law 
Commissioners, that during the first half-year of i860 this 
anomaly existed in several Unions. We shall quote a few 
curious instances. 

In Dunfanaghy Union, (Donegal), the sum expended on the 
poor amounted to £85 ; the salaries of Workhouse officials to 
£101. At Ballimoney £200 was expended on the poor, and 
£244 on officials. At Carrick-on-Shannon £229 on the poor, 
and £267 on officials. 

Exceptional as are these anomalies, they remind us not a 
little of our own fiscal system before the Revolution. The rate- 
payers had enormous subsidies to pay, but a small part of which 
fell into the royal treasury. The rest remained in the hands 
of the farmers of the revenue, and of all kinds of financial 
agents, who took their quota out of the revenue before the 
king could obtain wherewith to pay his troops or fit out his 
vessels. In the same way, the amount of poor-rates in Ireland 
is neither proportioned to the number of poor relieved nor to 
the amount of relief given. The expenses of administration 
are too large, and annually absorb too large a share of the 

But why these enormous expenses for administration ? Why 
this army of functionaries? Why so intricate and expensive 
a machinery ? Why a system which betimes is more expensive 
in proportion as there are less poor to relieve? and how comes 
it that these objections only bear upon the manner in which 
poor-law is administered in Ireland, and that neither in 
England nor Scotland similar complaints are heard? In what 
does the mode of dispensing legal charity in Ireland differ 
from that in use in Great Britain ? 



In England and Scotland the greater part of the relief given 
is Out-door Relief. In Ireland, with very few exceptions, the 
poor obtain relief only in the Workhouses. 

Not that in the latter country the law prohibits the giving 
of Out-door Relief; on the contrary it authorizes it; and 
durino- the years of the great famine, when the poor who 
were to be snatched from certain death were counted by 
hundreds of thousands or rather by millions, the greater part 
of the relief given was Out-door. But under ordinary cir- 


cumstances Out-door Relief, the usual method pursued in 
England and Scotland, may be considered as an exception in 

This fact is easily verified by figures ; after which we must 
examine its causes and state its consequences. 

In 1857, in the 629 Unions of England and Wales, 816,982 
poor were relieved; of whom 113,395 only in the Workhouses, 
and the remaining 703,587 at home. 

In Scotland relief was given to 119,453 persons; of whom 
113,434 received Out-door relief, and only 6,019 relief in the 

During the same year the administration of public charity 
in Ireland distributed relief daily to an average of 51,726 
poor; of whom 50,772 in the Workhouses, and only 954 at 
their homes. 

This difference in the manner of dispensing relief entails 
another in the annual budget of each of these administrations. 

Thus, the sum of £5,668,141 expended on the poor of Eng- 
land and Wales during the year 1857 was laid out as follows: 

In-door (Workhouse) Relief . . . £1,088,577 

Out-door relief £3,153,278 

Salaries of Officials ; expenses of repairs, 

and other expenses of administration £1,426,286 

Total . £5,668,141 

During the same year, the expenses in Ireland amounted to 
£498,218; out of which the expenses of repairs, salaries of 
officials, and other administrative expenses, amounted to 

So that considering the number of poor relieved, the annual 
expense represented by each individual, — whether in receipt of 
in-door or out-door relief, — was : 

In England £6 18 8 

In Scotland . . . . . 4 17 8 

In Ireland 9 12 7 

The same figures show equally clearly that in Great Britain 
(England, Wales, and Scotland) the average number of poor 
in receipt of out-door relief was 1 in 25|, and of those in receipt 
of in-door relief 1 in 175. 

In Ireland, on the contrary, the average of poor receiving 
in-door (Workhouse) relief was 1 in 118, and of those receiv- 
ing out-door relief but one in 6300, 

* From the official Reports published in 1858 ; quoted by Dr. Denis Phelan, 
Reform of the Poor Law System in Ireland ; p. 1. 



[book VI. 

If then we were only to consult the figures,* which show 
the proportion of poor relief to the total number of inhabit- 
ants, our readers would have to conclude that the labouring 
classes are better off in Ireland than in England and Scotland ! 

But this conclusion is loudly contradicted by facts. Although 
the number of poor in England and Scotland is very large, 
whose sufferings deserve all the attention and philanthropy of 
the public relief administrations, it is however well known 
that destitution is in Ireland far more general and more in- 

No other conclusion can be drawn from these figures than 
that in Ireland, whilst each pauper costs more to keep, the 
amount of relief distributed is hardly sufficient. This arises 
from the fact of the administrative expenses being too great, 
and of the relief given being too exclusively In-door, instead of 
being as in England and Scotland more generally Out-door 

But since the Irish Poor Law does not prohibit the giving 
of out-door relief, why do not guardians avail themselves of a 
power which would enable them to assist a larger number of 
poor? Why in fact is nearly the whole amount at the dis- 
posal of the administration expended on in-door relief alone, 

* A few examples "will better show the contrast : — 

County of Suffolk (England), . . 

Unions of Armagh and Monaghan) 

(Ireland), ) 

County of Northampton (England), 
Unions of county Down (Ireland), 

Counties of Cambridge and Hunting- 
don (England), 
County of Tyrone (Ireland), 

County of Durham (England), 
County of Antrim (Ireland), 

County of Aberdeen (Scotland) 

Counties of Sligo and Leitrim 

land), .... 



Counties of Sutherland, Caithness,) 
Ross, and Inverness (Scotland), j 
County of Donegal (Ireland), 







Daily aver- 
age of poor 









lin 13J 
1 in 286 

lin 17 
1 in 177 

lin 15 
1 in 271 

1 in 24| 
1 in 152 

1 in 26£ 

1 in 228 

lin 25| 
1 in 385 

— (These figures extracted from Official Reports are quoted by Dr. Phelan ; 
p. 5.) 


entailing all kinds of expenses for which the poor are the 
pretexts but by which they do not benefit? 

It is because in reality the Irish law, while it seems to autho- 
rize out-door relief, yet indirectly obliges the poor to submit 
to shut themselves up in the Workhouse if they want to be 

In England and Scotland relief is given to whoever is tem- 
porarily unable to provide for himself and his family ; poverty, 
sickness, want, are the only conditions which it is necessary to 
prove, in order to have a claim to poor-law relief.* 

In Ireland any person holding a farm and cultivating more 
than a quarter of an acre of land cannot get out-door relief, 
nor be temporarily received into the workhouse/f Now as 
nothing is more common in Ireland than that a man should 
hold half an acre of land and at the same time undergo exces- 
sive privations; when the peasant has tried all means of 
escaping from the misery which presses him in every direction 
he has no resource left but to abandon his cabin and his little 
holding, to shut himself and family up for ever in the 

This terrible quarter-acre clause caused, a short time ago, 
grave embarrassment to the administrators of public charity, in 
one of those crises of distress through which the West of 
Ireland passes nearly every year. 

The official Report published in 1859, by the Commissioners, 
states that during the famine which afflicted the island of 
Iniskea (Belmullet Union), from the summer of 1858 until the 
spring of 1859, the inhabitants of that island endured all the 
extremities of hunger before they would consent to give up 
their little holdings. In England and Scotland they would 
have been spared these cruel sufferings. A statement of their 
distress would have immediately procured them relief, and 
entrance into the workhouse would not have been the necessary 
condition upon which that relief would be granted .% 

* " The only fact to be considered by the guardians (in England) is the des- 
titution of the applicants. . . . Out-door relief is not unfrequently given 
to persons holding 3, 4, or 5 acres of land, and possessing a cow or other pro- 
perty." — (Answer of an English Poor Law Inspector to a letter of Dr. Phelan ; 
Reform, &c, p. 14.) "No person in Scotland is excluded from relief by the 
occupancy of land, or the possession of small articles of property, if, on due 
inquiry, his means of subsistence prove insufficient." — (Mr. Walter, an official 
in the central Poor-La w Board of Scotland.) 

t " The Irish poor law declared that no person in the occupation of more than 
a quarter of a statute acre of land shall be deemed to be a destitute person ; 
and that no person occupying more than that quantity shall obtain relief either 
in or out of the Workhouse." — {Rep. of the Poor Law Commiss., 1848, p. 17 ; 
10 Vict. c. xxi. , §. 10). [This oppressive enactment has but just been repealed — 
since the publication of this work in the original.] 

X " We feel bound to point out, that the main difficulty with which we are 



A considerable number of families tried to keep their hold- 
ings and cabins, by living for several weeks on nothing but the 
gills and entrails of fish. An official of the administration, an 
eye-witness of this destitution, declared that nothing but the 
keenest hunger could have induced human beings to partake 
of such repulsive food.* 

Things came to such a point that not daring to yiolate the 
law even in presence of such extremities its administrators 
themselves were obliged to evade it. They ordered the guar- 
dians to give out- door relief, not to the head of the family, 
who having more than a quarter of an acre of land refused to 
go to the workhouse, but to his wife and children, f 

Compared then with the English and Scotch system, the 
method of giving relief in Ireland has the triple disadvantage of: 

Being proportionately dearer, — 

Relieving less poor, — and 

Subjecting them to very hard conditions. 

To prove the latter assertion we must follow the poor Irish- 
man into the house officially destined to receive him and to 
secure him from hunger and misery. It is time to knock at 
the Workhouse door and enter. 



Scarcely had the poor law mechanism been put into operation 
in Ireland when a French publicist accused it of being the 
embodiment of rigour rather than that of charity. " Alms are 
offered with one hand," he exclaimed, "and a prison door 
opened with the other."! 

Nothing is more accurate than this view of Irish Work- 
contending is the existence of that state of the law which makes it illegal to 
relieve the head of a family, as a destitute person, so long as he retains the 
occupation of land exceeding a quarter of an acre." — (12th Ann. Rep. of the Comm. ; 
1859 ; p. 18.) " I have offered an order to the Workhouse ; they refused."— 
(Report of an Inspector, 12 Jan. 1859.) 

* They are official Reports which enter into these lamentable details. " I 
have known several families to boil and eat the gills and entrails of fish ; and 
when I asked if it was a usual thing with them to do so, they told me it was 
not, but that they had nothing else to eat j and I do think that nothing but the 
keenest hunger could induce any human being to partake of such repulsive food.' 1 ' 1 — (\2th 
Ann. Rep. of the Coram., 1859, p. 49.) 

t Same Report. 

% M. de Beaumont, Vol. II. p. 131. M. de Lasteyrie expresses himself in 
nearly the same terms. — (Revue des Dmx-Mondes, Aug. 1st, 1853; p. 504.) 



houses. They are real bastiles, in which the families of the 
poor are confined and subjected to a treatment inferior both 
materially and morally to that of the common prisons. 

The fundamental principle of the administration of Work- 
houses in Ireland is, that life there shall be made to border as 
closely as possible on destitution. By this means it is proposed 
to banish from them those of the poor who would come 
thither only to live in idleness at the expense of the ratepayers. 
To exclude idlers and pretended paupers is undoubtedly the 
part of good administration. But is it therefore necessary to 
treat the poor in such a manner as to make them envy the lot 
of the very felons? Is it therefore necessary to subject them 
to a treatment such that with a little reflection they might 
come to the conclusion that as far as law goes it is less dis- 
agreeable to be punished as a thief then relieved as a pauper.* 

Here we have something more to fall back upon than admin- 
istrative reports and official figures. We speak from observa- 
tions made during frequent personal visits to workhouses, and 
also from the comparison we were enabled to institute between 
the fare of these houses and that of the Dublin and Cork 
prisons .| 

The buildings erected in each Union since 1840 to serve 
as Workhouses have generally an imposing aspect.^ To judge 
by^ the exterior alone, one would be inclined to consider 
the poor very fortunate at having exchanged their wretched 
cabins, so badly protected against wind and rain, for these 
vast well-built houses, generally placed as they are in very 
healthy spots. The treatment of the poor inside is however 
far from answering to these appearances. 

In English Workhouses and Irish Prisons the fare consists 
of three meals daily; breakfast, dinner, and supper. Meat is 
allowed twice or three times a week.§ 

In Irish Workhouses the adults have but two meals ; break- 

* It is not uncommon among the "Workhouse paupers to find some who will 
commit certain offences in order to be put in prison and to enjoy prison fare. 

t Principally the admirably conducted prisons of Mount joy, Dublin, and Spike 
Island (Queenstown, Cove). I take this opportunity of expressing my grateful 
thanks to John Lentaigne, Esq., Inspector General of the Irish Prisons, and to 
Peter Hay, Esq., Governor of Spike Island, for the valuable information they 
did me the honor to communicate to me, whilst personally showing me over 
these prisons, and patiently explaining the minutest details. 

X The Blue Book of 1848 contains in an Appendix the plans of the different 
buildings forming a Workhouse. 

§ Ex: — Mile End Workhouse (London), and Birmingham Workhouse. In 
Wandsworth Jail, a few miles out of London, meat is given four times a week. 
In an account of the weekly expenses of the Birmingham Workhouse, for the 1st 
of June, 1860, we see put down as consumed 5, 928 pounds of bread, 222 pounds of 
butter, 129 pounds of cheese, and 1, 728 pounds of meat. {Parish of Birmingham, 
No. 484 ; Financial, Statistical, and Medical Statement, for the week ending Saturday 
the 1th of June, I860.) 


[book VI, 

fast at 9 o'clock in the morning, and dinner at 4 in the 
evening. Sapper there is none; and from 4 o'clock in the 
afternoon till the next morning the poor get nothing. 

Meat is exclusively reserved for the sick. The able-bodied 
poor get some once a year, on Christmas day ; and even this is 
not in virtue of a general rule: every year as the feast 
approaches the guardians deliberate on this point.* 

As to the meat which is given to the sick, if in all other work- 
houses it is similar to what I saw in one of them it will be easily 
understood that it must have lost all its nutritive properties 
before being served up. It was a piece of beef which had been 
steamed for eighteen f hours. The broth, largely diluted with 
water, and with some rice, maize, and vegetables, again boiled 
in it, made up the principal part of the meal given to the able- 
bodied poor. 

We have been frequently present at the paupers' dinner in 
the workhouses ; and in comparing their fa